Monday, March 17, 2014

Tuscany Wine with Winter Soup

Learning about Italian wines in a cold New York winter was difficult. While they make some amazingly big and bold reds, the whites we found seemed to be more light and delicate. Of course, if paired correctly, even a lighter wine can make for a great meal.

Soup. Bread. Hearty vegetables. That's how we eat to survive the cold. In this case, the soup was turnips, pureed with avocado and garbanzo beans. The beans and turnips gave it an earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness from the turnips, while the avocado gave the soup some rich creaminess. Topped with some brussels sprouts fried with bacon, and served with some fresh, hot bread, we were looking at a flavorful meal. But the despite the significant flavors of the dish, we thought the fruitiness of a red might clash with the sweet flavors of the turnips and brussels sprouts.

Montenidoli is situated in an old wine growing region in the hills of Tuscany, in the shadow of San Gimignano. The site was abandoned in the World Wars, but revitalized in the 1960s by the current owners. They specialize in regional grapes, and we picked up their "Vernaccia di San Gimignano", labeled as a "dry white wine". We had never tried the Vernaccia grape before, but we made an assumption that a dry white would give us some of the more grassy notes that might work well with the dinner. In this case, we were wrong, but it worked out in our favor. The wine was floral on the nose, but had a mixture of citrus and fruit backed with a salty minerality that matched the earthy flavors of the meal.

What did we learn about Italian wine this time around? That it can be unexpected, and quite amazing. We definitely have incentive to keep exploring.

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