Italian Flavor to Your Holiday Turkey Dinner
Wine traditions add zest to a holiday feast
wines complement any dish,
whether its poultry, seafood or pasta.
think there are few things more American than a holiday dinner
with close friends and family. However, fall harvest feasts
and festivals have been celebrated worldwide for thousands of
years, even as far back as ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome.
year why not put a twist on your holiday meal with sumptuous
regional Italian delicacies and wines for a new family tradition
or an exciting alternative to the ordinary.
with Christmas Eve Fish Dishes
In Italy, early holiday dinners were based on seafood such as perch, salmon,
cod, clams, oysters, crab and lobster that were found in abundance
on the dinner tables of the first settlers. Similarly, on the
island of Sicily, the majority of the diet comes from the sea, with a Christmas tradition that survives today in the feast of the seven fishes.
squid, shrimp, mussels and sardines are Sicilian staples and
are often served with light, vibrant white wines to accentuate
their natural flavors. To give your feast a Sicilian accent,
try serving grilled swordfish steaks or mussels and pasta in
marinara sauce as a main dish, and golden-brown calamari as
an appetizer. Also, a large broiled salmon or tuna fillet with
a medley of roast Italian vegetables makes for a gorgeous display
on the dinner table.
For a perfect
complement to any seafood that should make your menu, try a
wine such as Corvo Bianco ($10). Blended from a combination
of indigenous grapes, including Insolia and Grecanico, Corvo
Bianco is a classic example of the quality of the island's
wines. With its fresh fruit taste, herbaceous character and
light mineral aftertones, this white wine brings out the subtle
complexities of oils and seasonings and is ideal for serving
with light fare like salads and shrimp, as well as intensely-flavored
seafood like salmon, mackerel and clams.
of all kinds is a mainstay of Italian cuisine, and locating
a recipe to fit your taste and budget is simple. For the most
amazing aroma, give your traditional turkey an Italian flair
with a Venetian-style rice and sausage stuffing. Combining cooked
wild rice; sweet and hot Italian sausage; fresh chopped peppers,
onions and spinach; minced garlic, oregano and basil, the rich,
spicy rice and sausage stuffing definitely enhances the natural
flavors of the bird.
Wine with Turkey
your Venetian turkey, or any holiday poultry dish, with a wine
from the neighboring region of Trentino. It is here that Ca'
Montini produces some of the best-rated and lively white wines
on the Italian peninsula. The weather in this mountainous region
provides the ideal conditions for growing Pinot Grigio, one
of Italy's most popular varietals here in the United States.
Ca' Montini Pinot Grigio ($16) has vibrant, crisp flavors
of pears, green apples and golden honey, and it has been rated
as one of the top-ten Pinot Grigio by the Wall Street Journal
for two years in a row. Furthermore, the statuesque tapered
bottle adds a touch of elegance to any spread.
with (what else?) Pasta
if you decide to proceed with a true Italian theme, preparing
and serving a pasta dish, whether as an individual entree or
as the main course, is essential. Tuscany, with its steep rolling
hills and natural vineyards, has been a celebrated wine producing
region since the days of the Roman Empire. The same fertile
fields are also used to grow the wheat and grain necessary to
make some of the heartiest pasta dishes in all of Italy. True
Tuscan pasta dishes like Risotto, or Gnocchi, served with a
hearty tomato sauce and meatballs or sausage, make for an excellent
first course or side dish to go along with the ham or turkey
in place of potatoes or yams.
most commonly associated with Tuscany is Chianti,
and a perfect and affordable match for your pasta dish comes
from Piccini, the region's largest and most noteworthy
producer. Piccini Chianti DOCG ($7) is a flawless match for
all hearty pasta dishes, especially those with red meat sauce.
A dry red wine with harmonious nuances of raspberry, black currant,
spice and oak, it has a gorgeous ruby-red color and an essence
that matches beautifully with the meats, cheeses and herbs used
in pasta sauce. To find it, just look for the Chianti with the
vibrant harvest-orange label.
Wine with Holiday Ham
traditional holiday centerpiece, a glorious glazed ham, can
also be given an Italian twist to make your dinner unique. After
all, Italy is renowned for smoked ham, roast pork and sweet
sausage. Instead of using a honey or cherry glaze for your ham,
try making a southern Italian glaze made from pomegranate and
clove. This glaze has a delightfully sweet flavor that blends
flawlessly with the texture and taste of the ham. For sides
to go along with this dish, prepare hearty Italian vegetables
like eggplant, artichokes, pumpkin or zucchini.
a suitable wine for an Italian holiday ham, we return to Sicily.
A red wine with deep flavors of red berries and spice to complement
the natural sweetness of the ham and the glaze, and beautifully
crafted from Nero d'Avola, Nero Mascalese and Pignatello,
Corvo Rosso ($10) is a sophisticated wine that tastes well above
its price and serves extraordinarily well with roast meats,
mushrooms, breads or cheeses.
you serve any of these dishes or just the traditional turkey
and ham, the wines suggested will emphasize the flavor of your
fare and make this a holiday meal to remember.