It’s always nice to match the food of a particular region with its indigenous wines, and few places offer a more interesting palette of possibilities than Tuscany. As much fun as it will be for anyone to prepare Jennifer’s Tuscan menu [see recipes in magazine], serving it with some great Tuscan wines will add to the enjoyment almost as much as sharing it with the right friends (whether they are from Tuscany or not).
Vernaccia di San Gimignano is one of the more ancient Italian wines, having been made since the thirteenth century. A white of some character, it is crisp and sometimes slightly pétillant (bubbly). This wine displays a pleasant mineral quality which is reminiscent – in the best possible sense – of wet rocks. It’s a great complement to the hors d’oeuvres. The wine’s acidity will cut through the richness of the Gorgonzola and walnuts, helping to reveal the sweetness of the pears, the overtones of the rosemary, and generally helping ones appetite come to the fore in anticipation of the main course. Terruzi & Puthod makes a great example for $10.00.
The most important wines from Tuscany are red, and all feature some variation of the Sangiovese varietal. The most famous wine from Tuscany is Chianti, and it is a fine choice to accompany this menu. Castello d’Albola Chianti Classico (about $11.00) is very clean, with fresh black cherry flavors and friendly tannins. It has enough backbone to stand up to the Lemon sauce and Balsamic vinegar, while its fruit brings out the dulcet flavors of the roasted chicken and white beans.
If the occasion suggests something more extravagant, try Castello Banfi’s Brunello di Montalcino (about $38.00). Made from a Sangiovese clone, it has many of the ways of a simple Chianti about it, but more so. Its complexity and concentration successfully searches out heretofore unnoticed nuances in the rosemary and sage, while the beans and risotto act as a salubrious cocoon for its spirited finish.
The most traditional, most perfect beverage in which to dunk a biscotti is the Tuscan classic, Vin Santo or “wine of the saints.” It is made from Malsasia or Trebbiano grapes which have been dried, historically, by being hung from rafters until the sugars and extracts are sufficiently concentrated to result in a sumptuous, sweet, highly alcoholic wine of great repute. Try Barone Ricasoli’s at $16.50.