Traditional Italian Food And Wine Pairings – Red Wine And Abruzzi Dishes

The Abruzzi region is situated in central eastern Italy on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The area is 2/3 mountains and 1/3 hills. If I remember correctly, the first time that I heard of this region was decades ago, when I learned that according to Craig Claiborne, at that time Food Editor of the New York Times, Italy’s best food was found in Abruzzi. I really don’t know if this ambitious statement still holds but Abruzzi tables hold their own.

Lasagne Abruzzesi (Lasagne Abruzzi style) makes a good starter or a brunch dish. The major ingredients include ground beef, minced veal, eggs, dry white wine, flour (if you make the pasta yourself as the locals do), peeled tomatoes, grated Pecorino cheese, prosciutto fat, and ideally smoked local cheese. This recipe is somewhat complicated but makes a delicious dish whose recommended wine pairing is a local Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC. It seems to me that after going to all this work to prepare the lasagna, whether or not you made the noodles from scratch, you should up the ante and go for a local Montepulciano d”Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG.

Another pasta dish is Macceroni alla Chitarra (Maccaroni made on a Chitarra) in which the word Chitarra signifies the guitar shaped instrument that is employed to make the pasta. This pasta is often served with a ragout of lamb stewed in wine and olive oil accompanied by tomatoes, garlic, and other goodies according to each cook’s traditional recipe. The classic wine pairing is Aglianico del Vulture DOC, which comes from Basilicata.

Agnello alla Scannese (Lamb Scannese style) is a relatively easy lamb dish with dry white wine, olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and salt and pepper. There are many suggested wine pairings including Chianti DOCG and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG from Tuscany, Barbera d’Asti DOC and Barbera d’Alba DOC from Piedmont, or, if you want to go all out, try a Barolo DOCG, also from the Piedmont. However, Barolo modestly known as the king of wines and the wine of kings can be disappointing. I remember the fateful day that I finally tasted this wine. The first Barolo was pedestrian at best. The second Barolo readily made up for the first. For a change try an Octopus dish. The locals enjoy Polpi in Purgatorio (Baby Octopus in Purgatory) that is cooked in tomato, garlic, parsley, and diavolicchio, local hot chilies. As you travel from the mountains to the coast, the dishes, including this one, get hotter and hotter. Don’t miss out on the chilies but don’t overdo them. If you are a fan of octopus and chilies, you’ll enjoy this dish with an Italian Pinot Nero.

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