An Italian White is a Better Match with Mexican Pork Chops Than a Red

Having just returned from holiday in Mexico, we fancied cooking a favourite from Supercook – Costillas a la Mexicana, which is Mexican pork chops.

Garlic is rubbed over the chops and they are refrigerated while the Salsa Mexicana is made. Chillies, tomatoes, onion and garlic are chopped and blended and salt added. The chops are pan-fried and the sauce is poured over at the end. We served with tortillas.

We tried a bottle of the excellent Ravenswood Zinfandel, but we quickly decided this didn’t work and switched to an Italian white – The Society’s Pinot Grigio 2014, from the Wine Society.2016-03-08 18.04.40 2016-03-08 18.16.16

We detected a slight pineapple sweetness with flavours of tropical fruits and nectarines. A good wine and a good match with the pork.

An Italian White is Very Good with Mixed Fish Stew

We tried the mixed fish stew with croutons recipe from

We cut some salmon and smoked haddock into pieces, added some prawns and simmered in a stew made from garlic, tomato purée, onion, tomato, fennel seeds, saffron, paprika, fish stock, salt and pepper.

We served the stew with croutons, grated Gruyère cheese, a parsley garnish and a rouille made from mayonnaise, cayenne pepper, saffron and garlic purée.

Very tasty.  We’ll do this recipe again.

We opened a bottle of Orvieto Classico Secco, Barberani 2012, an Italian white from the Wine Society.

We found the wine slightly off-dry, fresh with good acidity and lovely creamy citrussy flavours.  A very good match with the fish stew. 2015-08-23 17.49.10

An Italian White is Good with Spicy Spaghetti

We found a great midweek pasta meal on BBC Food – Creamy Chilli, Bacon and Tomato Spaghetti by Justine Pattison.

Spaghetti is coated in a sauce containing onions, streaky bacon (we used pancetta instead), garlic, chilli flakes, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, oregano and cream. A tasty and delicious recipe with a spicy kick.

We opened a bottle of Visionario 2011 Venezie IGT, an aromatic Italian white blend from the Sunday Times Wine Club.2015-01-28 18.04.59

We found this wine refreshing with creamy grapefruit flavours and a good match with the pasta. We thought the wine might pair even better with less spicy dishes.

A Pecorino is Very Good with Cheesy Ham and Mushroom Pasta

We needed to use up some ham and found a recipe by Mary Berry online on the BBC Food website.

The recipe uses Parma ham but we used ordinary ham together with mushrooms, crème fraîche, salt and pepper and grated Parmesan cheese. Penne pasta is stirred into the mixture and chopped parsley is sprinkled over.  We served with crusty bread and thoroughly enjoyed this simple but tasty recipe.2015-01-01 17.45.41

To pair with the meal we opened a bottle of Tesco’s Finest Pecorino Terre di Chieti 2012, an Italian white.

This was fresh, crisp with creamy grapefruit, peach and pineapple. This enjoyable wine was a very good match with the pasta.

An Italian White Blend is Good with Fish Grilled with Cheese

For a midweek meal we tried Fish Grilled with Cheese from Supercook.

Cod loin pieces are grilled and then topped with a mixture of onion, cheddar cheese, English mustard, tomato ketchup, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.

The fish is then put back under the grill until the mixture is bubbling and brown.2014-11-05 20.30.00

We thought the topping had a nice savoury and spicy kick to it.

We opened a bottle of Rocca Colmontano 2011, an Italian white from Sunday Times Wine Club. The wine is a blend of Trebbiano with a little Verdicchio.

The first thing we noticed was the deep gold colour of the wine in the glass.  We tasted slightly sweet honey and then tropical fruits, especially pineapple.  There was creaminess on the finish.

We thought the wine’s affinity with the food improved as the meal progressed. A good match.

An Italian Gavi is Good with Fettuccine alla Romana

For a midweek meal we cooked Fettuccine alla Romana from Supercook.  This is a tasty, colourful Italian dish of fettuccine noodles with a sauce containing canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, mushrooms, red wine and a little sugar.  It is served with grated Parmesan sprinkled over and fresh crusty breadIMG_0432.

We had difficulty finding fettuccine in our local shops and eventually found some in Waitrose made by De Cecco.  It was very expensive and, whilst it was very nice, frankly we didn’t think the difference in taste justified the huge hike in price from standard own-brand pasta.

We opened a bottle of Tesco’s Finest Gavi 2012, an Italian white made from the Coretese grape.  This crisp, dry wine had a citrussy freshness with flavours of pears.   It was a good match with the meal.

A Sicilian Grillo Goes Well with Sicilian Seafood Pasta

Last time we drank Stenmari Grillo Sicilia 2011 was with a Tagliatelle Bolognese and we made a note to try this Italian white from the Wine Society with fish or seafood next time.

We found a recipe in our Jamie’s Italian cookbook called Spaghetti con Gamberetti e Rucola (Spaghetti with Prawns and Rocket). The sauce contains prawns, garlic, red chillies, white wine, sun-dried tomato purée, zest and juice of lemon and rocket.  Lemon zest is sprinkled on top of the spaghetti too when serving and so the dish IMG_0426had a definite spicy and lemony kick.

It seemed very appropriate to pair this dish that Jamie discovered in Sicily with a Sicilian wine and we found it fresh, crisp, citrussy, zesty with a grapefruit finish.  It coped well with the strongly-flavoured sauce.

A Sicilian Grillo is Good with an Authentic Tagliatelle Bolognese

Good wine pairings with pasta and Bolognese sauce can be a challenge.  If the sauce is ready-made or from an English cookery book recipe,  it is likely to be herby, garlicky, very tomatoey and sweet.  The traditional and authentic Italian Ragu is much milder in flavour and needs more gently-flavoured wines, preferably whites.  (See here for how we learned our lesson the hard way).

The renowned Italian chef, Antonio Carluccio wrote an interesting article in the Daily Mail about the differences between the British adaptation and the traditional.  We tried his Ragu recipe from the article and served it with Tagliatelle as suggested.

The Bolognese sauce contains pancetta, carrot, celery, onion, minced beef and pork, dry white wine, chicken stock, tomato paste, salt and pepper. We sprinkled some fresh Parmesan cheese over the dish.  Try this recipe and taste the difference.

We paired the meal with a bottle of Stenmari Grillo Sicilia 2011, an Italian white from the Wine Society.

The wine was mellow with tropical fruits, a little melon and an intense grapefruit finish.  We thought it was a lovely wine and a good match.  We wIMG_0402ill try our next bottle of this wine with some fish or seafood.

A Frascati Superiore is Fair with a Seafood Risotto

We tried the Seafood Risotto recipe from Jamie’s Italian, which contains a mixture of fish and shellfish with fennel, tomatoes, carrots, bay leaf, parsley and lemon.  The risotto bianco is cooked in white wine, fish stock and flavoured with onion, garlic, celery and Parmesan.  We thought the recipe was only OK and we wouldn’t do it again.

We opened a bottle of Poggio Verde Frascati Superiore 2011, an Italian white from the Wine Society.  The wine was crisp, citrussy with a creaminess and we enjoyed it.  It was a fair match with the food.IMG_0191.JPG (2)

A Frascati Matches a Fish and Potato Pie Well

Supercook’s Fish and Potato Pie recipe contains cod and haddock baked with potatoes, milk, eggs, tomatoes, breadcrumbs and cheddar.

We paired it with a bottle of Poggio Verde Frascati Superiore 2011, an Italian white from The Wine Society.  Frascati is usually made from a blend of grapes and in this case Malvasia is the dominant variety.  We enjoyed the wine’s IMG_0187.JPG (2)flavours of citrus and fresh grapefruit and considered it a good match with the fish pie.