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Need a White for an Italian Meal

ambrose Mar 26, 2007 06:01 PM

I belong to a dinner group that will be going to a very good (so I'm told) Italian restaurant. It's BYO.

Under normal circumstances, I would take a red wine but in this case I have been asked to bring the token white. I haven't a clue what to choose. I am wide open to suggestions but would like to keep the price under $35. Thanks in advance.

  1. a
    akowit Mar 28, 2007 06:01 PM

    Falanghina -- as others have mentioned. It's my current favorite Italian white and goes well with a lot of food.

    I actually tend to order Sancerre with my appetizers at Italian places, as it goes well with the kinds of Italian appetizers I like to order: artichokes, leafy greens like puntarella or raddichio, scallops. I bet it would go well with calamari or octopus, too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: akowit
      m
      Mr. Cookie Mar 29, 2007 02:11 PM

      I would third or fourth or whatever the rec's for falanghina. Also would recommend pinot grigio from the Alto Adige region in northeastern Italy; and Verdicchio from Les Marches. There must be good vernaccias out there but I can't say I've ever had one that got me very excited.

      Of course Italian whites don't have to be served with Italian food, but it does seem kind of a natural to start there and see what you like.

    2. c
      Campania Mar 28, 2007 02:11 PM

      Here's some wine with pairings and producers at the bottom...
      -Greco di Tufo tends to be straw yellow in color with a bit of gold tints. Various fruits contribute to the taste of Greco di Tufo, but this doesn't mean it’s sweet! Apples, white peaches, apricots, and local citrus fruits are blended together give the wine its unique taste. Greco di Tufo can be paired with shellfish, grilled fish and chicken, soft cheeses (mozzarella di bufala).

      -Falanghina is pale, bright yellow. Falanghina is an excellent beginning to dinner with antipasti. It’s light, fresh, and clean. Local annurca apples are the key aroma along with hints of nutmeg and maybe a bit of toasted Virginia tobacco. Serve with seafood, vegetables, risotto, carpaccio, chicken, turkey, and soft cheeses.

      -Fiano di Avellino's medium gold appearance is telling of the toasted hazelnuts, almonds, and honey that highlight its fabulous taste. Native flowers, pears, apricots, and citrus fruits may be detected along with acacia (native tropical trees), hawthorn (native thorny trees or shrubs), mint, and fennel. An ideal aperitif when served with seafood, oysters, and shellfish.

      Producers: Terredora, Mustilli, De Concillis, Antonio Caggiano, Macchialupa, Di Meo, Benito Ferrara, Villa Nobils, Cantina del Taburno, Ocone, Moio, Villa Matilde, Molettieri, Montesolae, Villa Raino

      1. ibstatguy Mar 28, 2007 12:37 PM

        Costamolino - I think it is around $10 and gets rave reviews from Tanzer/Parker, et al

        1 Reply
        1. re: ibstatguy
          Robert Lauriston Mar 28, 2007 02:37 PM

          Delicous stuff, a great value and a real crowd-pleaser.

        2. w
          whiner Mar 28, 2007 12:15 AM

          So, does the wine have to be Italian? Everyone is assuming that it does...

          2005 Giacosa Arneis would be my top pick.

          I might go with a Schiopetto of some sort. I consistently find them to be among the best imported (or, at least, easily findable imported) Italian whites.

          If you wanted something that had a little oak, but not in an over-the-top CA Chard sort of way, Pra Soave Monte Grande is a very good choice.

          If you are willing to venture out of Italy, I would consider an Alsatian Toaky Pinot Gris or else an Austrian Riesling. For the Riesling, 2005 Prager Riesling Federspiel Steinriegl would be excellent. For the (Tokay) Pinot Gris I like the basic Zind Humbrecht or if that is too expensive, the Dirler. Alsace has had a string of good vintages recently. I should note that I have yet to taste that Rielsing I reccomended. I've had it in several past vintages and enjoyed it. Just haven't tried the '05 yet. However, my single most trusted reviewer, David Schildknecht, gave it an excellent review.

          2 Replies
          1. re: whiner
            ambrose Mar 28, 2007 05:13 AM

            I am the OP and the answer to your question is no, there is absolutely no reason for the wine to be Italian. I posed my question because I am in the habit of drinking reds with Italian food (and they're not always Italian reds). I simply do not know which whites would work best under these circumstances.

            Thanks to all who have responded thus far. I already have some good ideas.

            1. re: whiner
              c
              Chicago Mike Mar 29, 2007 11:21 PM

              Certainly in the case of chardonnay it doesn't have to. I've had delicious Italian meals with cali, french, and aussie chardonnays.

            2. Robert Lauriston Mar 27, 2007 11:50 AM

              A falanghina would be a good choice. They're usually delicious and go very well with a wide variety of foods. Alois and Taburno are good labels.

              Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna has similar qualities.

              Youth is essential in Italian whites. Get a 2006 if you can (they're just starting to show up), definitely nothing older than 2005.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                carswell Mar 27, 2007 11:59 AM

                >>Get a 2006 if you can (they're just starting to show up), definitely nothing older than 2005.<<

                Can't agree. None of the 2004s that I've tasted in the last few months has been over the hill. In fact, neither have any of the 2003s, though I've not particularly enjoyed them.

                1. re: carswell
                  Robert Lauriston Mar 27, 2007 12:28 PM

                  If they're high in acid, they keep better. Softer wines, best to drink up within a year.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    ibstatguy Mar 29, 2007 02:57 PM

                    just realized you had already recommended the Costamolino

              2. carswell Mar 27, 2007 08:25 AM

                Some of the more impressive Italian whites in your general price range that I've tasted recently:

                Pinot Grigio 2004, Gris, Lis-Neris, IGT Venezia-Giulia www.chowhound.com/topics/365363

                Fiano di Avellino 2004, Campanaro, Feudi di San Gregorio www.chowhound.com/topics/382243

                2004 Soaves (or, in Anselmi's case, once and maybe future Soaves) from Pieropan, Inama, Anselmi www.chowhound.com/topics/336227

                1. CindyJ Mar 27, 2007 06:35 AM

                  You might want to try a Vernaccia from San Gimignano in Tuscany. This is my go-to Italian white for drinking and cooking. It'll go particularly well with antipasto.

                  1. c
                    Chicago Mike Mar 27, 2007 02:02 AM

                    Chardonnay matches a wide variety of Italian foods, especially where cream and garlic are present.

                    An excellent food-friendly and overlooked Italian white is Soave Classico Superiore... the higher the percentage of garganega grapes in the blend the better...

                    Also, if you want to amuse and thrill your friends, bring some Moscato d'Asti for apps and/or dessert, a great Italian sparkling wine.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chicago Mike
                      c
                      chickstein Mar 27, 2007 06:33 AM

                      Marchesi de Frescobaldi Pomino Benefizio. One of Italy's great Chardonnays.

                    2. b
                      BN1 Mar 26, 2007 08:01 PM

                      On a trip to the Piemonte in Italy a couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to Roero Arneis. I found it very refreshing and crisp. K&L uses "general-purpose aperitif or wine for antipasti" in their descriptions. I think it would be good with fish dishes. I brought a bottle of the 2005 Malvira "Trinita" home with me. The various brands at K&L run $13 to $18.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: BN1
                        Robert Lauriston Mar 27, 2007 11:52 AM

                        I find Arneis a bit fussy about food pairings, some of them can easily be overpowered. I wouldn't bring it to a meal if I didn't know the both the menu and the particular arneis.

                      2. ChefJune Mar 26, 2007 06:26 PM

                        There should be no problem with finding a delicious white under $35...

                        I would avoid The ubiquitous Santa Margarita PG,

                        My personal favorite Italian whites are (in no particular order):
                        Tocai Friulano
                        Gavi (specifically Banfi's Principessa Gavi)
                        Fiano di Avellino

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