Wine Myths: Italian Wine is for Italian Food

Katie Mather debunks common wine myths


Some wine snobs might have you believe that Italian wine only pairs perfectly with Italian food. There’s an old adage that what grows together goes together, and in many instances this is undoubtedly true—basil and tomatoes, forest mushrooms and walnuts, Padrón peppers and sea salt. Wine pairings sit comfortably within the realms of their own region, which is to say that if a certain food or dish is traditionally prepared there, it probably stands to reason that the wine made there or thereabouts will be a perfect match. These are long-standing rules and beliefs, and there has been many-a book written about this very subject to help you make your decision for you, but where’s the fun in being right all the time without a bit of trial and error first?

Experimentation is the name of the modern sommelier’s game, and when it comes to Lazio wines, you’ve got a lot of different characters to play with. In Rome, Lazio’s sprawling capital, you’re more likely to see a Roman drinking an Aperol spritz with their snacks than partaking in local wine. Why? The easy answer is because it’s delicious and refreshing, and it goes with everything. But Aperol is from Padua, and made with ingredients like rhubarb and quinine—not exactly Lazionian. Herein lies my point. Do what you want, as long as it tastes good to you, and don’t be afraid of being “wrong”. Italian food is so steeped in dogmatic regulations that it’s impossible for a non-native cook to ever get it totally right. From pasta shape to the contents of your salad dressing, in my opinion, it’s best to start on the right track and then veer dangerously off-course towards whatever shiny things take your fancy. 

Wine from Lazio ranges from the sweet and intensely aromatic dessert Bellone, to the dry, white peach and citrus-spiked Frascati, and incorporates dark, brooding reds as well as light, frivolously fragrant whites. You can have a lot of fun with this region. The rose blooms and herby complexity of rosé Aletatico could pair exceptionally well with your sweet potato tagine and jewelled rice. The spiced muskiness of Malvasia del Lazio might make a wonderful pairing with a king prawn pad thai. Cesanese is a pork-pairing classic, but what if you took its fondness for fennel and went down a Chinese Five Spice rabbit hole? The world is your oyster, my friends, and that oyster does not just have to be served with Champagne.

Share this article