We in Georgia meet two distinct paths for authentically pairing wine with our Italian cuisine: we can find the right Italian wine to experience the flavors we would find in Italy; or we can gravitate towards the Italian model of eating locally and in season, and look for the best wines in our area to match the meal we’ve planned.
There are plenty of resources for the former path, but today we’ll look at the best picks around Atlanta for your springtime Italian menu. Here are some items that show up on menus in Italy this time of year, and what to serve with them in your home.
In Italy, its harvest is cause for celebration (and plenty of festivals). Let the artichoke find its way to your table this spring. Because they contain cynarin, a naturally occurring component that makes other foods taste sweet, many shy away from pairing artichokes with wine. It can be a challenge, as the cynarin can make an already sweet wine almost unbearable. It’s worth accepting the challenge, though: artichoke paired with a dry, acidic wine, such as Sauvignon blanc, is just about the greatest thing on earth. Consider the Sauvignon Blanc Reserve from Château Élan Winery & Resort. It’s dry and fruity, and it will bring out the artichoke’s sweet flavors without being overwhelmed by them.
Château Élan Winery & Resort: 100 Tour de France, Braselton, GA 30517; (678) 425-0900.
f you make this Italian comfort food at home, consider pairing it with a Sangiovese from Frogtown Cellars in Dahlonega, GA. Sangiovese is indigenous to the Tuscany region of Italy, and lucky for us, the grapes thrive right here in Georgia as well.
Frogtown Cellars: 3300 Damascus Church Road, Dahlonega, GA 30533; (706) 865-0687.
Whether as the base of an entree salad or as an accent to a pasta dish (arugula pesto, anyone?), this green is in season and calling our name. Balance its peppery punch with a sweet white like Riesling, or go local with a Blanc du Bois from Currahee Vineyard and Winery in Toccoa, GA. This wine is similar to a drier Riesling, and it won a silver medal from the INDY International Wine Competition.
Currahee Vineyard and Winery: 3301 West Currahee, Toccoa, GA 30577; (706) 768-5383.
What is spring without spring lamb? And what is spring lamb without wine? The great news is that lamb is considered one of the most wine-friendly foods out there –– it pairs nicely with just about any wine you can think of, and it’s not too shabby with a nice I.P.A., either. A sure bet is a light Pinot Noir, and for that, we look to Sharp Mountain Vineyards in Jasper, GA. That said, one trick is to look at the other components of your lamb recipe and to its preparation when deciding on a wine. Award-winning Wine and Food Writer, Fiona Beckett shares a look at recommendations for eight different lamb preparations here.
Sharp Mountain Vineyards: 110 Rathgeb Trail, Jasper, GA 30143; (770) 753-1210.
What, you don’t have grilled octopus on your spring menu? Come on over, and we’ll make it for you. Or, dare to dream of those eight delicious tentacles making their way to your kitchen (and your heart?) with this simple recipe from the New York Times. Grilled octopus and Vidal Blanc make great companions, and Georgia makes some lovely Vidal Blanc. Head to Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega, a family-owned operation where all wines (including their grilled-octopus-friendly Vidal Blanc) are 100% grown and made on the estate.
Three Sisters Vineyards: 439 Vineyard Way, Dahlonega, GA 30533; (706) 865-9463.
Click here to learn more about other amazing organizations in Georgia that provide a great foundation for food and beverage by reading our article on what “farm to table” really means for us. At the end of the article, we provide resources on a few of our favorite farms throughout Georgia.