The Ultimate Guide to Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing

piedmont food and wine pairing

Piedmont food and wine pairing – let’s eat! 

My passion for flavor started with wine. While I have long enjoyed cooking, my move to Italy brought new meaning as it soothed my feelings of isolation. In many ways, my knowledge of food and wine pairing came as a byproduct of culture shock through reading, experimentation, and asking tons of questions.

Still, food and wine pairing intimidates many, especially with wines from a lesser-known region like Piedmont. So, here’s a guide to keep it all straight, starting with a food and wine pairing basics.

The Piedmont Food and Wine Guide Includes:

  • Food and wine pairing basics
  • Piedmont’s primary wine varietals
  • What to know about the wine
  • What to pair
  • Recipes to try

food and wine pairing basics

Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing: Whites and Sparkling

Arneis Wine Pairing Notes

A top white in this red-dominated region.

What to know: Arneis is medium-bodied with low acidity (think Riesling for a high acidity contrast). It’s not a very aromatic varietal. The taste profile is pear, green apple, hints of blossom, and a slightly savory, nutty finish.

What to pair: Fish, white meats like turkey and chicken, carbonara, lighter cheese sauces, and even mild curries. In the summer try cold ham, cooked ham off the bone, and salumi. 

The Ultimate Guide to Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing

Cortese Wine Pairing Notes

Labeled “Gavi”, the characteristics are similar to Arneis. Follow the same pairing recommendations. Though, Gavi can be a better choice for fish given its proximity to the sea.

Try These Recipes With Arneis and Gavi:

Moscato d’Asti Wine Pairing Notes

Moscato d’Asti is a semi-sweet, low alcohol sparkling wine.

What to know: On the nose are floral aromas with hints of peaches and apricot. The palate shows medium acidity with big, juicy fruit flavors of pear, apple, peach, and apricot.

What to pair: The light sweetness makes an excellent match with fruit-based desserts, like apple desserts, berries, and peach cobbler. Hazelnuts work well since Piedmont is the land of hazelnuts. Add it to brunch or happy hour / aperitivo spreads – the balance of sweetness and salty make it a perfect compliment.

Try These Recipes With Moscato d’Asti: 

Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing: Reds

Dolcetto Wine Pairing Notes

Dolcetto means ‘little sweet one’. It’s a favorite table red of the region that pairs well with rustic foods and antipasti. Try Dolcettos from Dogliani and Diano d’Alba for some of the top expressions.

What to know: Soft, easy-drinking with low acidity, and full, sweet tannins. Dolcetto is bright on the palate with tart, slightly bruised cherry flavors. In recent years producers have been making more fruit-forward versions; they show darker, heavier fruits.

What to pair: Pizza, tomato-based ragu, moderately spiced chili, and slightly spiced pork rib on the barbecue. Also pairs great with cured meats.

Try These Recipes With Dolcetto:

Pelaverga Wine Pairing Notes

What to know: It’s a light- to medium-bodied red with good acidity. On the palate are strawberries and the signature Verduno white and black pepper characteristics. Serve slightly chilled to enhance its flavor.

What to pair: Try chicken, turkey, lightly spiced thai food, mild curries, and paella. At our annual Italian Thanksgiving, we paired it with Roast Turkey with Chestnut Apple stuffing. The acidity cut through the turkey fat and its lighter, peppery profile was a perfect complement to the apple stuffing.

Try these recipes with Pelaverga:

Barbera Wine Pairing Notes

Barbera is the most widely planted grape of the region. Probably not surprising, it’s also an adaptable and vigorous varietal. Its broad range of styles give endless options for the dinner table.

Read more on Barbera wine pairing.

barbera d'asti
One of my favorite, easy-drinking barbera wines. Scarpa is a historic producer from the Monferrato, producing some of the best barbera wines on the market.

What to know: Barbera’s high acidity cuts through animal and vegetable fat. Despite its deceiving deep ruby color, it is low in tannin. On the palate, it shows brambly fruit, red cherries, and spice.

What to pair:< Meat- and tomato-based pasta dishes, game, hard cheeses, as well as grilled meats like hamburgers and sausages. For a fuller Barbera, try a lightly seasoned beef dish or lamb (roast, curry, stew). The Ultimate Guide to Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing

Try These Recipes With Barbera:

eggplant parmesan stacks recipe

Nebbiolo Wine Pairing Notes

Nebbiolo is considered one of Italy’s noble varietals. Its powerful tannins make it an age-worthy wine that demands a rich food and wine pairing combination. To enjoy young, drink Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d’Alba. In general Langhe Nebbiolo grapes are grown in the Langhe hills while Nebbiolo d’Alba usually comes from the sandier soils of the Roero.

What to know: Nebbiolo offers beautiful balance with good acidity and heavy tannins. It’s intensely aromatic and perfumed. On the palate it shows dried petals, more red fruit than black, and earthy tar notes.

What to pair: Rich, heavy meats and sauces work well. For something different, try moderately spiced Asian cuisine; the red fruit, high tannin, acidity levels, and perfume support Asian dishes.

Try These Recipes With Nebbiolo:

Barbaresco Wine Pairing Notes

The Queen to Barolo’s King, Barbaresco is the more elegant of the Langhe royalty. The wine requires three years of aging (nine months in oak) before release. These wines really start to show their beauty between five and 10 years. Holding them can be hard, but oh-so-worth-it.

Read more on Barbaresco wine pairing.

What to know: Given it is 100 percent Nebbiolo, Barbaresco has a red and some black fruits with a rich, elegant structure. It shows more savory, earthy notes than a younger Nebbiolo.

What to pair: Darker, gamier meats with rich sauces; venison, prime rib, wild boar, etc. Many local producers swear by fish, too! Read more at the Barbaresco wine pairing link above!

Try These Recipes With Barbaresco:

barolo wine

Barolo Wine Pairing Notes

The Barolo of today is a stark contrast to its early rich sweet and fruity style (similar to a ruby port). Before release to market Barolo must be aged for 4 years, 18 months in oak. It starts to show its beauty after 10 years but can be laid down much longer. Barolos often need more time for the tannins to soften.

Read more on Barolo wine pairing.

What to know:Fuller than Barbaresco, Barolo shows a more tannic, tar essence. It has more intense structure and complexity with its heavier tannins.

What to pair: Pair with rich, heavy meats, and sauces like Beef Wellington.

Try These Recipes With Barolo:

Buon Appetito, Ragazzi!

Food and wine pairing is a fun way to explore wine. Try regional, traditional to better understand the cultural aspects, but also play with unique pairings to give the wine new life. I get teased about all the french cooking I do with Piemontese wines. But, I simply love the fusion.

Once you know the wine characteristics that factor into food pairing, experimenting is so fun.

Please share your favorite food and wine pairing recommendations below or on social media (Facebook and Instagram)!

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31 replies on “The Ultimate Guide to Piedmont Food and Wine Pairing”
  1. Great overview of the region! Thanks for including a link to my risotto post. Now I must say I wouldn’t think of an Italian red with Asian food, but I like trying interesting pairings so will keep that in mind!

    1. Thank you – and thanks for reading! Yes, the asian food is a unique one indeed. It makes sense really, though. Think of all the tannic green tea they consume. Keep me posted on your experiments with it!

  2. says: jeff

    Wow, what a complete post, Val. Great suggestions and thanks for connecting to some of my posts. I’ve had fun searching out some of the less known varietals from Piemonte but have not been able to find Pelaverga here in MN. Sounds like I should keep trying!

    1. Thanks, Jeff! We are happy to put together a Christmas wine pack for you and Julie with an empahsis on indigenous varietals if you want. Email me if so.
      Next time you’re here maybe I can plan an indegenous tasting day (or two!)

    1. Thank you! I love Pelaverga. I got married here in August. We did a blind tasting before dinner with Fratelli Alessandria Pelaverga. It was so fun to introduce our visiting guests to the grape!

  3. says: Anna Savino

    Great write up Val! Love the “what not to pair with”… Almost more interesting to read for the whites because we are so used to reading fish and white meats! Could you explain why you suggest carbonara with arneis ? It has pancetta (so pork) and is a heavy sauce… My husband loves carbonara so it is an interesting pairing idea:) brava val!

  4. says: Angie Cowan

    First off, I love this blog, Val!
    It makes me want to get back to Piemonte ASAP to sample your wine/food pairings!
    Secondly, I LOVE your song choice and quote by W.C. Fields – couldn’t agree more.
    Lastly, you really taught me some things… thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge.
    Yay!! So glad to see you writing more and sharing with your blog!!!

    1. Thank you! That quote was Lisa’s at the wedding. I’m working on a wine buying guide so you have a list wines to try with these recipes!

      Tomorrow I’m updating w/Moscato and some fun recipes! I recall you and your mom loved it.

  5. says: Ishita

    This is brilliant Valerie!! I can’t wait to come to Piedmont now. Have heard so much about the region and read even more thanks to Lucia and you!

    I have no clue about wines except Chardonnay and Chainti. Now I would love to try new ones and pair with food

  6. Hi Valerie,
    Not sure if you received my email/inquiry the other day. We are planning a trip to the Piedmont region. Found your website and loved the format and ideas. Can definitely use your help. Not sure if it will be 1 couple or 3 couples. Would love to begin a dialogue with you about this trip and more.
    Thanks so much for your help. Life’s moments are made to shared…
    Nancy Cassano

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