Chianti for a Christmas wine? Damn right
Much like their pasta and pizza, the Italians have been perfecting their wines for generations. And let’s be real, if there’s a culture that knows how to pair wine with food, it’s the Italians, right?
With your festive parties on high rotation right about now, why not take along an Italian drop (and arrive on a Vespa while you’re at it)? From Christmas lunch with the in-laws to a last-minute holiday party with your mofos, these Italian classics will impress the most bougey of your mates (or snobby uncle).
Chianti vs Chianti Classico
First up – let’s get the pronunciation right. It’s kee-arn-tee – despite what your Aunt Glenda yells across the kitchen at Christmas, asking if you’d like a “chee-anti”.
So what’s the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico? The difference is that Chianti and Chianti Classico are separate appellations in the Chianti region in Tuscany, so the grapes used in the two wines are grown in different places and the regulations for winemaking are different (but very similar).
What they have in common is their savouriness and they’re both best mates with food – they LOVE to be thrown down with rich tomato-based meatballs and pasta, or salami pizza.
You might notice that Chianti Classico wines, generally considered higher in quality than Chianti, always have a black rooster emblem on the label. This is not some random pretty picture – it harks back to a legend about the use of roosters to settle a nasty border dispute between the warring provinces of Sienna and Florence. There’s your history lesson for today.
Both examples are made from (mostly) sangiovese grapes, bringing high acidity and earthy flavours to the drop.
Go bold with Barolo
You can count Barolo as your +1 for all social shindigs – whether it’s a BBQ with your mofos or an awkward double date with your mate’s new partner. Sure, it’s a bit like comparing apples with oranges (or in this case notes of rose flower, tar and dried herbs with cherry, raspberry and mushroom), but Barolo is the Italian equivalent of French pinot noir, known in the wine world as Burgundy.
While it may have a reputation as being an affordable alternative to Champagne, Prosecco has fast become the people’s bubbly – with lighter and more refreshing flavours, it’s the mofo’s gateway to Italian sparkling wine. Made only from glera grapes, this wine has come a long way from its sickly sweet, flower-power loving predecessors of the 1960s.
Brut styles of prosecco are drier and go down well with savoury foods – a great reason to bust out the focaccia you’ve perfected during lockdown. Save popping the sweeter styles until the tail-end of Christmas lunch when gnawed turkey legs and soggy salads are replaced by pavlovas, trifles and the traditional Panettone.
Finding a suave soave
A hot Australian Christmas calls for a refreshingly crisp white and the Italian soave (say it after me: swah-vay) is the answer. Its zesty-melon reputation precedes it, pairing well with our national dish – seafood cooked on the barbie. Like your dad’s holiday humour, this wine is dry, gentle on the palate and surprisingly floral.
The Mediterranean is calling you for the festive season with a few bottles of Italy’s finest. Don’t worry about the menu. These Italian drops will go with anything. Prego.