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  Corkscrew Issue 10, Summer 2003   
Matching Food with White WinesMatching Food with White Wines  Contents 
Issue 9, June 2003 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 11, September 2003

Matching Food with White Wines

The wines usually consumed in summertime can be perfectly matched to the preferred foods of hot days, however they also allow the matching of rich foods as well

 During summertime the foods which are usually consumed in this season tend to become lighter and fresher, in the table there are lots of vegetables, fish and salads, likewise wine has the same fate and in the glasses are more willingly poured white wines instead of reds, it seems color promises lightness. This generally corresponds to the truth, white wines, in particular the ones produced with some grapes or wine making techniques which give wines having a lighter structure and less alcohol, are more light and more agreeable and, at least in their appearance, they can be matched to summer foods.

 Indeed it should be remembered there are also full bodied white wines which would certainly appear inadequate with some dishes made of fish or vegetables, whites, just like any other wine, are produced and “created” according to the style the producer decides to give its wines. Therefore there are white wines having a light structure and little alcohol, as well as full bodied and alcoholic white wines, moreover, in case the wine was fermented or aged in cask, its organoleptic characteristics will be affected by this process as well as its structure and body; these are factors that will be scrupulously considered when a wine is to be chosen for the enogastronomical matching.

 

A Golden River Rich of Choices

 The current production of white wines seems to be less favored than red wines, that is the one which is commonly and unjustly referred as the “real wine”, and even in some areas, traditionally involved in the production of white wine, they started to pay more attention on the production of red wine. Despite the fact this is the result of commercial opportunities and choices based on what the market requests the more, there are still areas and producers who remain faithful to what they produced since ever, hopefully enriching their production with other wines, and fortunately, the offer of white wines is still rich and vast.


 

 Moreover, there are areas which are strongly associated to white wine and their fame is known everywhere, and we sincerely hope, they will continue to delight us with their excellent productions. Bourgogne, Alsace, Loire Valley, Vallée d'Aoste, Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Mosel, Rheingau, Austria and New Zealand are just few of the many areas or countries that could be mentioned. The choice of white wines is rather vast and every country is capable of offering interesting products for the enogastronomical matching. Besides the huge selection of wines produced everywhere and in every wine producing country of the world with the international grapes “Chardonnay”, “Sauvignon Blanc” and “Riesling”, excellent grapes indeed, interesting opportunities, and often pleasing surprises, can also be found in those wines produced with lesser known grapes and certainly this does not mean less interesting: white berried grapes are countless and every one of them is capable of giving wines with unique characteristics, capable of exalting particular enogastronomical matchings as well as to exalt themselves.

 France offers a wide selection of white wines and the most representative areas certainly are Alsace, Bourgogne and Loire Valley. Alsace is renowned everywhere for its refined and excellent white wines, in particular the ones produced with Muscat Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Silvaner grapes. The wines of this region are extremely elegant and refined, often considered as a model to follow in other wine producing countries which cultivates those grapes. Alsatian wines, undoubtedly, are excellent for enogastronomical matching. Bourgogne, indisputable homeland of Chardonnay grape, practically the only and unique white berried grape cultivated in the region, in its many areas offers a rich selection of wines produced with this grape. Chablis, Côte d'Or, Côte de Beaune, Meursault and Pouilly-Fuissé are just few examples of the excellent areas of Bourgogne where Chardonnay is being produced. Loire Valley is the homeland of Sauvignon Blanc, renowned for its Pouilly-Fumé, among the most representative areas of the region, as well as Sancerre and Touraine. Wines produced in this region with Chenin Blanc grape are interesting as well, in particular in the areas of Vouvray, and Muscadet of Sèvre-et-Maine, produced with Melon de Bourgogne grape. Other areas of France famous for the production of white wines are the Rhône Valley, in particular Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu for their wines produced with Viognier grape, Languedoc-Roussillon, Jura, Provence and Savoie.

 Italy, with its rich patrimony of grapes, offers a rather vast range of white wines and the enogastronomical matching should be considered as an interesting opportunity for reevaluating, or better to say, rediscovering, the countless white berried grapes varieties which are often and unfortunately forgotten in favor of the so called “international” grapes cultivated in every region of the country and used for producing excellent wine. From Vallée d'Aoste to Sicily, every region can offer wines produced with local grapes as well as international grapes which can be perfectly matched with many dishes. Because of the huge selection of white wines produced in Italy, mentioning all of them, or just a part, would require a longer report, therefore we will just mention the main white wines produced in every region.

 Vallée d'Aoste offers an excellent white wine, produced with Blanc de Morgex grapes, cultivated in the highest vineyards of Europe at an altitude of about 1200 meters (about 3930 feet), a delicate and aromatic wine with a pleasing crispness. Piedmont, usually known as the homeland of great red wines, produces excellent white wines with Cortese, Arneis, Favorita and Timorasso grapes. Lombardy offers good white wines produced with Trebbiano di Lugana as well as the vast production of Oltrepò Pavese. Alto Adige produces extremely elegant and refined white wines, in particular with Gewürztraminer, Müller Thurgau and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, as well as the less famous, but certainly very interesting, Veltliner, Kerner and Silvaner. In Trentino, as well as international grapes, should be mentioned its pleasing wines produced with Nosiola. In Veneto are cultivated many white berried grapes and the most representative one certainly is Garganega. Friuli Venezia Giulia has an abundant production of white wines and Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana and Verduzzo Friulano are just few to be mentioned. Even the production of white wines of Liguria is interesting, in particular the ones produced with Pigato, Vermentino, Bosco and Albarola grapes. Albana probably is the most famous white berried grape of Emilia Romagna, however the region produces good wines with Pignoletto, Trebbiano di Romagna and Malvasia grapes. In Tuscany there is the Vernaccia di San Gimignano as well as Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca.

 In Umbria is the Grechetto grape to be the most famous one, however in this region, among the many grapes, there are Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia as well. In the Marches is the Verdicchio grape to be the most representative one which is capable of giving interesting white wines. In Latium the production of white wines is mainly based on Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia and Trebbiano Giallo grapes. Abruzzo is certainly associated to its Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, the name used here to refer to Bombino Bianco, however there should also be mentioned Passerina and Pecorino grapes. Bombino Bianco is also cultivated in Molise as well as Falanghina and Greco. The main white berried grapes of Campania certainly are Falanghina, Fiano, Greco and Coda di Volpe, however wines produced with Asprinio and Biancolella are interesting as well. Apulia produces good white wines with Bianco d'Alessano, Verdeca, Bombino Bianco, Fiano and Malvasia grapes. Basilicata, particularly known for its red wines, produces interesting white wines with Greco Bianco and Malvasia grapes. The same is also true for Calabria where they produce white wines with Greco Bianco grape. In Sicily excel white wines produced with Grillo, Catarratto and Inzolia grapes, the same used for the production of the excellent Marsala. In Sardinia Vermentino certainly is the most famous white berried grape, however Nuragus, Nasco, Semidano and the extraordinary Vernaccia di Oristano should be mentioned as well.

 Germany surprises the world with its excellent white wines since ever, in particular the ones produced with Riesling, an enology model which is imitated everywhere in the world. In Austria is the Grüner Veltliner grape the most representative one, which is capable of giving very interesting wines. In Spain are produced excellent wines with the Albariño grape, very pleasing and aromatic. Even white wines of Portugal are pretty interesting according to an enogastronomical point of view, in particular the ones produced with Alvarinho and Verdelho grapes. New Zealand produces excellent white wines with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling grapes; the same grapes are also found in Australia where they also produce excellent wines with Sémillon and Chenin Blanc grapes. Interesting are also the wines produced in South Africa with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, two grapes that are also cultivated in the United States of America, Chile and Argentina. Lastly, Greek, renowned for its famous Retsina wine, produces interesting white wines with Assyrtico, Athiri and Roditis grapes.

 

Matching White Wine

 The secret of a good enogastronomical match is based on the evaluation of the organoleptic characteristics both of food and wine and how they interact one each other. Therefore, matching white wine require the knowledge of its organoleptic characteristics, both in general and specifically of the wine to be matched. In general terms, organoleptic characteristics of white wines are acidity, alcohol, the quantity of residual sugars, body, the taste-olfactory persistence and, in case of slightly sparkling wines, effervescence. In case a wine was aged in cask, this factor will also contribute to add structure to the wine as well as altering its organoleptic characteristics.

 Acidity is useful for the matching of those foods which have a certain “fattiness”, such as cheese and every dish which has fatty condiments, such as lard. Acidity can also be matched with foods which have a slight sweet taste, such as pasta, cereals, rich in starches, crustaceans, fish, vegetables, that is the kind of foods where a slight sensation of sweetness can be perceived and not a real and proper sweetness. Even the “mineral” organoleptic sensation in white wines, that is the sensation which vaguely resemble “salt” sometimes found in some white wines produced in the areas near the sea, can be useful for the matching of these foods, in particular with the foods having a slight sweet sensation. Even slightly sparkling wines, having an appreciable effervescence, are very useful for the matching of fatty and slightly sweet foods. In this specific case it should be remembered the action of effervescence and acidity are summed up, therefore they will be matched to foods having a particularly evident quantity of this sensations.

 Alcohol, besides partially contributing to the body of wine, thanks to is cleansing action, is useful with foods having unctuous substances in them, such as oil, as well as foods with elaborated and complex sauces. The quantity of residual sugars present in a white wine, and in a lesser extent, any possible aging of the wine in cask, contribute to determine the so called “roundness” of wine. This sensorial characteristic is useful for the matching of tasty foods, the ones having slightly acid tastes, such as tomato and sauces prepared with this ingredient, and slightly bitter foods, such as the tastes of certain sauces prepared with specific aromatic herbs, as well as vegetables, such as chicory.

 The intense aromatic persistence of a wine, abbreviated as PAI, that is the quantity of time flavors and aromas of a wine continue to be perceived after it has been swallowed, are useful for the matching of foods having the same sensorial characteristic, as well as dishes prepared with spices and aromatic herbs. A characteristic to be scrupulously considered is the structure of wine, or body, which is fuller in case it was fermented or aged in cask. This process, by passing tannins to wine, increase structure, however the body of wine is also determined by the wine making technique used for its production, the grape and how it was cultivated. The structure of a wine is usually matched to dishes having a similar structure: delicate and simple dishes require wines having little structure, whereas complex dishes having strong tastes are matched to full bodied wines. The application of this rule can make absolutely adequate a white wine with a “robust” dish that, apparently, would suggest the matching with a red wine instead.

 




 Events  Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Corkscrew column Not Just Wine 
  Corkscrew Issue 10, Summer 2003   
Matching Food with White WinesMatching Food with White Wines  Contents 
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