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Food + Wine 

The Regional Cuisine of Italy


The northwest corner of Italy is Valle d'Aosta.  Influences for Valle d'Aosta, a very mountainous  area at the base of the Alps, would be Alsace and Germany more so than one would think.  CABBAGE FLAN (Valle d'Aosta). Pair with the local Nebbiolo (aka Picotendro)

Trentino |
 Alto Adige was greatly impacted by the German occupation with a solid portion of their cuisine, language and wine varietals Germanic.  RADICCHIO WITH SPECK (Trentino Alto Adige).  Pair with local Vernatsch or Lagrein. We recommend: Castelfeder Lagrein "Rieder"

Friuli, bordering on Slovenia is greatly impacted by its eastern neighbors with meat driven stews, breads and soups. FRICO with asparagus tips and quail eggs (Friuli).  Pair with Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC white

Where does one start with Piedmont cuisine? It is so diverse- truffles, salumi, rissotto, pastas, seafood, squash blossom, meats.  It seems endless.  Perhaps that is why the anitpasti was designed!  AGNOLOTTI (Piedmont).  Start with Roero Arneis, (try: Pelassa San Vito Roero Arneis) then pair with a Nebbiolo -- your choice which style. Lighter, unoaked, perfect for wine, try: Vinchio-Vaglio Serra SetteFiglie Langhe Nebbiolo. For a richer, aged, oaked Nebbiolo, we suggest: Pelassa Antanido Nebbiolo Riserva

Directly on the Mediterranean Sea we find Liguria, where everything is simple and fresh.  No wonder that is the birthplace of pesto! TRENETTE WITH PESTO (Liguria). Obviously, you can't miss out on Cinque Terra.

In the center of Northern Italy, one finds Lombardy- a melting pot of Northern Italian cuisine and culture and of course, Milan.  A cornucopia of delights- but this one is the most traditional:   RISSOTO ALLA MILANESE  (Lombardy).  Pair with Franciacorta, of course.

Veneto in comparison to Lombardy and Piedmont takes the cake for diversity through cultures.  On the Adriatic Sea, and with centuries of battles and wars, Veneto's cuisine reflects generations just as much as the varietals grown in each region.  Rice reigns over pasta!  However a very classic Veneto dish would be PASTA E FAGIOI (Veneto) -- Enjoy with a Soave or if you need a red- Bardolino or Valpolicella Classico. Try: San Cassiano Valpolicella Classico -- it's got a classic minerality from this part of Valpolicella. In the mood for rosé? We recommend the local: Tenuta San Leone Bardolino Chiaretto


Emilia Romagna, as many other Italian, is known internationally for its cured meats and aged cheeses.  As a region, its cuisine specialties is pasta and though I could have chosen several. Ravioli won. PUMPKIN RAVIOLI (CAPPELLACCI) (Emilia Romagna). Pair this dish specifically with Lambrusco, though a Pignoletto would be just as delightful.

Local focus, simplicity and elegance with dramatic flavors- that's Tuscany.  I was blessed to work for a local Chef who immersed himself into Tuscan cuisine from the early start of his career as well as lived in Volterra with his wife, Michelle.  His wild boar dish is internationally known, as well as his been soup.  So I leave this delight here: WILD BOAR WITH BEANS (Tuscany).  Pair with a killer Super Tuscan and call a cab. You can find: Nottola Anterivo Super Tuscan on the wine list! 

Rustic, local and meat driven, Umbria is known for stews, truffles, porchetta, chestnuts and pasta.  This region is also the source of most of Italy's dried pasta and olive oil export.  TAGLIATELLE WITH TRUFFLES (Umbria) -- Pair with Sagrantino

In Marche, similar to Liguria, you are at the sea.  But the Adriatic sea and in a very hot climate! Another region focused on meat cuisine- fresh and local or cured. However, the seafood stews are the prize:  FISH SOUP WITH SOFT ASCOLANE OLIVES (Le Marche).  Pair with Verdicchio

Lazio is the home of Rome. Sophistication, elegance and a plethora of meats, fresh seafood, pasta and starchy dishes. Salt cod, mussels, fresh lamb and gnocchi are all staples.  Yet this dish is Lazio at its roots:  BUCATINI WITH AMATRICIANA SAUCE (Lazio). Pair with Cesanese or Canialolo

Mountainous and seaside Adriatic, Abruzzo's focus is hearty simplicity and spices!  Saffron is common.  Clever cuisine such as cheese and egg meatballs abound>> Yum: CACIO E UOVA (Abruzzo). Pair with ...oh yes: Torre Gajo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Rustic, handmade and fresh, Molise cuisine is not dissimilar to Abruzzi- partially because they were one region until the 1970's!  One cannot ignore this popular dish, found on the coast in any central or southern Italian region.
SPAGHETTI WITH FRESH ANCHOVIES (Molise). Pair with Sangiovese. One of our favs for the price: Montecchiesi Selverello Sangiovese


Known as leaf eaters, partially because the soil is so fertile and abundant, Campania is home to fresh vegetable dishes and street food- specifically pizza!  The cuisine is also seafood-based and famous for dessert!  Gelato!!  PIZZA NAPOLETANA (Campania).  Pair with Falanghina. From vineyards on Mt. Vesuvius: Casa Setaro Campanelle Falanghina

Peperoncino, pork, and pasta- well, maybe not that simple!  However, wheat and meat are prime, as are walnuts, spice and cheese. GUANCIALE or "bacon" pasta (Basilicata).  Pair with Aglianico!

The boot's heel of Italy, Apulia (Puglia) is rolling gentle hills with grazing livestock.  Cuisine is seafood, soups, stews, rice and uniquely shaped pasta, like orecchiette. ORECCHIETTE  "little ears" with broccoli (Puglia). Pair with Negroamaro or Chardonnay. We recommend: Palazzo Malgara Negroamaro

Oh Calabria! Hearty vegetables, porcini, beans, citrus, figs and seafood!!  Pastas are made in fun and funky shapes too.  Can't miss this: SWORDFISH WITH CAPERS AND LEMON (Calabria). Pair with a fresh Greco!

Sicily is heavily influenced by Greek and Arab cuisine. Blood oranges and nuts are also very common.  As with most of Italy, pasta reigns supreme. Here is a classic:  PASTA ALLA NORMA (Sicily).  Pair with Nero d'Avola, again: Palazzo Malgara

Most cuisine is roasted over open spits in Sardegna.  An island off the Mediterranean coast of Italy, they love pasta of all styles, meats and above all- seafood!  DUMPLINGS WITH TUNA AND BOTTARGA (Sardegna)  Pair with a fresh Vermentino. Try:  Santa Lucia Brigante Vermentino

Cheers!  Jaci
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Events at Portalis
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This week's 
tasting schedule:
May 25  Schäppchen Tasting
May 26  Around the World in 90 Days
May 27  Luck of the Draw!
May 28  Saturday: With my Burger!
May 29  Sunday: Ourtré Summer Whites
Portalis Wine Club
Two clubs to choose from: Portalis Explores! (budget) & Portalis Wine Club (no holds barred). Makes a wonderful gift!

Check out May's wine notes: Portalis Explores!: Wines from the Vesuvius & Portalis Wine Club: Gualdo del Re.
Gift Ideas at Portalis

Fathers Day & BBQ Pairings  MORE >

Augustiner Bräu |  Munich Germany

Portalis Wine Blog
05.18.2016  A Touch Outré - Summer Whites



Portalis Wines News
Press Release: May 3, 2016
SIP Northwest - Spring 2016: 10 Seafaring Locales to Sip Into by Julia Wayne


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