Italian Delights

Falling behind on my drinks...

My favorite local, recurring wine event – the South Market Bistro‘s wine dinners – took on an Italian incarnation last Thursday. The “Tour of Italy” five-course meal sampled wines from all over the boot and included both wines familiar to most casual wine drinkers, as well as more obscure varietals, which is not difficult when you’re dealing with Italy. In this familiar, frequently-visited setting, I know that I will not be disappointed.
The Bistro almost, but not quite, followed its traditional formula of starting with the lightest wine (DeFaveri Prosecco Brut from Veneto) and building up to the most powerful, and typically most expensive and sought-after wine (Tenuta Carretta Barbaresco Bordino). The third wine, however, was certainly fuller-bodied than the fourth, as well as being rough and rustic – the Alovini Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata

. Although I think this method works with just wine, I think it is more problematic when food pairing is involved, as it is difficult to eat a large, hearty fifth course and drink a heavy wine after already having consumed so much beforehand. I think it would be better to build up to the Barbaresco and then pedal back, perhaps ending with the

Aglianico paired with Butternut Squash and Ricotta Gnocchi

Prosecco, which would refresh rather than fatigue. But before I forget – the second wine was a light, citrusy Pedres Vermentino di Gallura from Sardinia, and the fourth a medium-bodied, red fruit-filled Tiberini Rosso di Montepulciano (Sangiovese) from Tuscany.
All of the food was delicious, but I thought the one pairing that was less effective was the Aglianico with Roasted Squash and RicottaGnocchi. (This was actually what everyone ate, not just yours truly the vegetarian! I can’t thank the Bistro enough for always accommodating my dietary wishes.) While delicious, the squash and gnocchi paled next to the wine, and this was underlined by the fact that the squash were chopped into teeny bits, rather than served in hearty chunks, which could have absorbed more flavor.
Ultimately, while I may nit-pick, I will always return to these dinners, as I can’t imagine a better quality meal for the price, in a cozy atmosphere with excellent company. Salute!


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