What Are the Best Tuscan Wine Pairings?

Kathy Merchant | Tuesday, Apr 7th 2020
Tuscan wine

What Are the Best Tuscan Wine Pairings with Food?

Tuscan cuisine is based oncucina povera,” a rural style based on seasonal and natural ingredients. Olive oil, unsalted bread, wild mushrooms, vegetables, and salt-cured or grilled meats form the base of this cuisine. So what wines from Italy do you pair with this rustic cuisine?
 
Here is a recap of our list of best Tuscan wine pairings:
 
  1. Older Pecorinos pair well with a red Sangiovese-based wine. Try a Brunello di Montalcino or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
  2. Try young Pecorino cheese with white Vermentino from neighboring Liguria.
  3. Antipasta selections marry well with red Vino Nobile or white Vermentino, or a Sangiovese rosé.
  4. Soup:  la ribollita and pappa al Pomodoro with Chianti Classico.
  5. Pasta: Try pici (fat spaghetti) with veal ragu with Brunello, Vino Nobile, or Chianti Classico.
  6. Grilled meats are well complemented with Brunello di Montalcino 
  7. Game meat can handles a rich Brunello di Montalcino
  8. Fish pairs well with Vino Nobile de Montepulciano
  9. Dessert with Vin Santo is sublime

Tuscan Wine-Red Wines

Tuscany is best known for its acidic, age-worthy red wines. More than 80% of Tuscany’s vineyard area is planted to red grapes. The Sangiovese grape is the primary grape in Tuscany’s three most important red wines:
  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
  • and Chianti Classico
These are the names that appear on labels. Super Tuscans are also regarded Tuscan wines. Cabernet Sauvignon and other international grape varieties are the grapes found Super Tuscans.

Tuscan Wine-White Wines

The most important Tuscan whites are Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Trebbiano Toscano, and Malvasia Bianca Lunga.
 
  • Vernaccia is an ancient grape, indigenous to the hill town area of San Gimignano, the only main area you find this grape. You will find this wine crisp and delicate, with floral and almond notes.
  • Trebbiano is the region’s workhorse grape. It blends well to add acidity and neutrality. You can find this grape in the sweet dessert wine Vin Santo.
  • Malvasia is used today in the production of Vin Santo.
  • Moscadello di Montalcino, a specialty of Tuscany, is a slightly bubbly sweet wine.
 

Menu choices for your next Tuscan wine inspired meal:

Tuscan Wine and Cheese Pairings

Pecorino Toscano DOC is Tuscany’s most important cheese. It is made from 100% sheep’s milk. The town of Pienza produces the most Pecorino in Tuscany. Pecorino is a treat when young and fresh. It can also age for months. This yields a hard texture (like aged Parmigiano-Reggiano) and nutty flavor.
Try Pecorino with antipasti, a salad course, with crusty bread. Likewise, it pairs well with a light main meal, or for dessert served with fresh fruit or fig jam. Young Pecorino cheese pairs best with white wine such as Montenidoli Vernaccia di San Gimignano. (Some Vernaccia wines are lightly oaked, including a few from the Montenidoli range. This will not contradict the wine/cheese flavor match.)
 
  • Pair older Pecorinos with a red Sangiovese-based wine, such as Brunello di Montalcino or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. 
  • In the springtime, young Pecorino cheese paired with fresh fava beans is a Tuscan favorite. A refreshing white Vermentino brings a lively pairing to usher in the spring season. Also, crisp Vermentino wines from neighboring Liguria add sparkle to the dish.

Antipasti (Appetizer)

Alongside Pecorino Toscano, a typical antipasti spread includes olives, salumi (wild boar), crostini (canapés topped with paté or vegetables), and bruschetta (pronounced “brew-sketta”). Many flavors work on an antipasti platter, so white and red wine selections mentioned above work well.

Primi (First course)

In keeping with its rustic roots, a Tuscan meal includes a bread-based zuppe (soup) rather than pasta for the first course of a meal.
 
  • Classic first courses include la ribollita and pappa al pomodoro.
    • First la ribollita’s main ingredients always include leftover bread, cannellini beans, lacinato kale, cabbage, and inexpensive vegetables such as carrot, beans, chard, celery, potatoes, and onion. This dish pairs very well with a bottle of Chianti. 
    • Second, pappa al pomodoro combines a bread-based soup with tomatoes, bread, olive oil, garlic, basil, and other fresh ingredients. Chianti or Chianti Classico pair very well with this dish.
  • Lastly, try Tuscan specialties such as pici (fat spaghetti) with veal ragu or a restaurant’s house-special ravioli. Brunello, Vino Nobile, or Chianti Classico pair well with this dish.

Want to taste great Tuscan wine and food in Italy? Join one of French Wine Explorers group or private tours to Italy!

Secondi (Second or Main Course)

Tuscan main courses can include a variety of options.

  • For example, grilled meats make a delicious entrée. Bistecca all Fiorentina, a large Porterhouse steak, offers a great local delicacy for two (or more) people.
  • In addition, game meat, such as rabbit, is found in a specialty dish of stewed rabbit with olives.
  • On the other hand, Tuscans along the coastline often include fish.

Tuscan Wine Pairings for the Main Course:

  • For meat lovers, the bigger the wine the better!
  • First, Brunello di Montalcino such as Casanova di Neri, Poggio di Sotto, and Il Poggione pair very well with the meats of the main course.
  • But fish dishes generally pair better with lighter reds such as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Dolci (Dessert) 

Vin Santo (“Holy Wine”) is a sweet wine made throughout Italy, but is decidedly a Tuscan favorite.

  • The white grapes of Malvasia and Trebbiano dry on cane mats or in bunches from rafters.
  • Then, after several months, the grapes go through a press and age for at least three years in buildings where the temperatures rise and fall with the seasons.
  • Finally, the resulting wine ranges from dry (slightly oxidized like Sherry) to sweet and opulent.
  • Vin Santo is best on its own, or with almond cookies called Cantucci or Biscotti di Prato. Frescobaldi produces of many styles of wine, including Vin Santo.

Tuscan cuisine offers comfort and familiarity. It produces the perfect meal–for a summer’s day, or a winter’s night. Tuscan wine offers a perfect pairing for your meal, from beginning to end!

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