Regional Italian Food Pairings – White Wine And Liguria Dishes

Liguria is a sliver of land in northern Italy along the Ligurian Sea north of the Mediterranean. They call it the Italian Riviera. Its wine production is quite small, and not much Ligurian wine ends up in North America. So we always make suggestions for other Italian wines including some from nearby regions. Given its extensive coast, don’t be surprised that a lot of the food comes from the water.

Condiggion (Sea Biscuits with Fish Salad). Sea biscuits are also called hard tack. They were about the only food taken aboard long sea voyages. Soften them in water or water and vinegar but don’t let them get soggy. Then add the salad whose contents vary enormously but in Liguria generally includes fish or fish roe. Wine pairings include Vermentino di Gallura DOCG from Sardinia, Gavi DOCG also known as Cortese di Gavi DOCG from Piedmont near the Ligurian border, or the Est! Est!! Est!!! de Montefiascone DOC from Latium. Est means this is it; the wine’s name is very pretentious, especially given that most people find the wine is pedestrian at best.

If you’re in Liguria around Christmastime, try to order Cappon Magro (Ligurian Seafood Caponata) the traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Genoa, the capital. This recipe is as complicated as any in our entire series. If you are ambitious save it for a special party. By the way, sea biscuits are part of the traditional version. Suggested wines include Gavi DOCG mentioned above, Umbria’s Orvieto DOC, and Verdicchio di Matelica DOC from The Marches. Be careful, there are a lot of blah Orvietos and Verdicchio’s on the market and you don’t want to spoil a great meal with an uninteresting wine.

Do you like snails? Maybe you’ll like them with anchovies and the fixings. Lumache alla Ligure (Snails Ligurian Style) calls for a bottle of white wine to accompany four dozen snails. You might use a wine that comes up a bit short but has nothing wrong with it (Verdicchio and Orvieto come to mind). Serve this delicious meal with a Vermentino di Sardegna DOC. If you’re in a sparkling mood try a Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOC from Veneto. A word of warning, as one might expect from its price, a Prosecco is far from a Champagne. But who ever heard of Champagne and snails? Actually, about twenty years ago when they were still allowed to call their wine a Champagne the Spanish sparking winemaker Freixenet ran an ad featuring snails.

Finish up your meal with Amaretti (Almond Cookies) made from a combination of sweet and bitter almonds. Many dessert wines go well with Amaretti. One of the best is Moscato Passito di Pantelleria DOC from the tiny island of Pantelleria off the coast of Sicily. Be forewarned, many say that it tastes like golden raisins in a bottle. Other fine choices include Recioto di Soave DOCG from Veneto and Vino Santo del Chianti DOC and Vino Santo di Montepulciano DOC from Tuscany. The last one may be rather hard to find. These dessert wines are usually sold in small bottles. Great things come in small packages. Sometimes.

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