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Dec 20, 2011 08:09 PM

Italian Christmas Eve Menu - How to Pair Wines?

What would Chowhounds do? That is, how would you navigate this menu?

Shrimp Cocktail w/ cocktail sauce
Stone Crabs w/ mustard sauce
Baccala Fritto | fried codfish
Gordone Fritto | fried artichoke stems
Baccala con pimento de olive nero | codfish with red pepper, fennel & black olives
Oysters Rockefeller | on the half shell w/ spinach, sour cream & caviar
Smelts | whole sardines

Spaghetti con Granchio Blu Pomodoro (Blue Crab Sauce)

Il Secondi
Chilean Sea Bass w/ garlic parmesan crust
Veal Parmesan (for a non-fish eater - wine pairing not necessary)

Contorno (sides)
Caprese Salad | ripe tomato, buffalo mozzarella and garden fresh basil
Broccoli Rabbe w/ garlic & pepperoncini
Fish Salad | scungilli, calamari, shrimp & octopus
Ciabatta w/ homemade garlic confit w/ thyme, red chiles and olive oil | aged three months

Polenta Pound Cake w/ vanilla mascarpone & rosemary syrup
Struffili | Pinoli | Persimmons & Fennel | Roasted Chestnuts | Fresh Fruit

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  1. This would be a fun menu to feature white wines of Italy. Do you have access to a lot of variety?

    As guests arrive, serve them a glass of prosecco spumante as an aperitif.

    With your antipasti, if you want to stick with sparkling wine, I'd pour some from the Franciacorta DOCG. You will also find some sparkling wine from Piemonte (Giacosa makes an excelelnt one as does Manzoni). If you also prefer a still wine with the antipasti, I'd consider a pinot bianco from Lageder or an Arneis from any number of good producers.

    For the pasta, even though there are tomatoes in it, and that might tempt someone to go red, I'd still stick with white. A Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore should have the oomph to pair with the dish. Alternatively a Vermentino from Sardinia.

    For your secondi, I'd move down to Campania and offer both a Fiano di Avellino and a Greco di Tufo. More for your contorni than for the fish.

    For dessert, I think a Moscato d'Asti would go beautifully with the poind cake, and would be a nice, low-alcohol way to wrap things up. If you'd like to splurge, a Passito di Pantelleria would be impressive.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Brad Ballinger

      Brad - Thanks for a great reply.

      I'm surprised there isn't more written about this dinner since it is so traditional. Any additional resources you know of? I read somewhere that Batali suggests Marisa Cuomo Ravella Bianco, but I can't find it locally.

      1. re: RightSideUp

        The Cuomo is around--Asgtor has had it. They've also got some other Costa d'Amalfi biancos, but I find them overpriced as nice, minerally blends. Along these lines, I'd suggest a Ciro Bianco from Librandi or a Savuto from Odoardi, both Calabria; a Pecorino from Abruzzo; a Grechetto from Umbria; even the base white from Planeta, Sicily. Why not add a dry, characterful rose as well--an Etna Terre di Rosso from Sicily is superb, and good roses can still be found from Abruzzo (Cersasuolo di Abruzzo) or even a Bardolino red or its rose, chiaretto) chilled. Great menu!

        1. re: bob96

          I think good Bardolino is one of the most underrated wines going. Corte Gardoni makes a great one. It's a wonderful, versatile food wine. And Corte Gardoni's chiaretto is a summer favorite of ours.