The best Italian Christmas wine for aperitivo hour

Aperitivo is sacred in Italy and one of our favorite rituals to indulge in. It’s like a ‘pre-dinner’ drink and normally involves a bitter flavored drink served with a snack to stimulate your taste buds and get your stomach juices flowing in preparation for eating dinner. Most of the year, you’ll find Italians drinking a ‘spritz’ either Aperol or Campari whilst those who don’t like bitter will drink a ‘Hugo’ made with sweet elderflower liquor. 

Come Christmas time, we like indulging in a glass of ‘vin brulee‘ or mulled wine in English. It’s a warm red wine based drink cooked with mulling spices and even raisins. In Northern Italy where temperatures are cooler, you can always find a glass at the Christmas markets to help warm you up. 

Another celebratory favorite during Italian Christmas is Asti Spumante! This low alcohol sparkling wine is a favorite around the Italian Christmas dinner table to start the meal or end it (of course served with a slice of panettone or pandoro).

 

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The best Italian Christmas Red wine to try

If you’re wondering how to choose a great Italian red Christmas wine, we recommend picking something spicy, herbaceous, and full of dark red fruits. Think Christmas in a glass basically! How does that actually translate into a wine though? Try one of these:

  • Brunello di Montalcino – think black cherries and berries, and notes of spices and vanilla thanks to being aged in wooden barrels
  • Montepulciano d’abruzzo– red fruits and spicy notes
  • Barolo – truffles, chocolate, dried fruit, eucalyptus, and leather
  • Amarone – black cherry, plum and raisins, accompanied by nuances of spice, chocolate and tobacco
  • Valpolicella sour cherry, cinnamon, chocolate, pepper, and almond
  • Negroamaro – prunes, ripe plum, blackberry, sweet cherries, allspice and clove
  • Nerello Mascalese – violet, small red fruits and spices

 

italian christmas wine

The best Italian Christmas white wine to drink

Like in many countries, in Italy, it’s traditional to enjoy a seafood feast on Christmas Eve or the vigilia di Natale. And while we’re not against pairing red wine with seafood, it’s a no-brainer to serve a delicious mineral Italian white wine since there are so many great ones to choose from.

Even if you’re not seafood feasting, we like to serve an Italian white wine at Christmas to cut through some of the rich, fatty meats served especially the porchetta or roast pork. Here’s our top picks for Italian Christmas white wine:

  • Vermentino:  mineral, citrus fruits, herbs, bay leaf, almonds and floral notes
  • Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi: citrus, yellow fruits and almond
  • Pecorino: jasmine, lemon blossom, yellow fruit and mineral
  • Fiano: Tropical fruits, honey, and floral accents.
  • Greco di Tufo: Mineral with citrus and peach flavors.
  • Falanghina: Bright and crisp,  featuring tropical fruit and floral aromas.
      moscato wine

      The best Italian wine for Christmas dinner

      Here’s our 101 breakdown that pairs an Italian Christmas menu with our favorite Italian Christmas wines. Happy feasting!

      1. Christmas Eve Seafood Feast: Falanghina 

      This year for Christmas Eve, we’re making squid ink pasta with clams, squid and cuttlefish and a tasty white wine sauce to match. Many Italians indulge in pasta con le vongole (clams), seafood risotto or a baked sea bream with potatoes for Christmas Eve.  We recommend pairing this with a Falanghina wine from Italy’s Southern Campania region like Di Meo.

      • Color: bright straw color
      • Style: mineral and full bodied
      • Flavor: floral, apple, lychee, dried fruit and thyme

      2. Aperitivo: Fried sage flowers, cured meats and insalata russa with Franciacorta

      Christmas day starters in Italy usually involve some kind of fritti or ‘fried food’ and there’s no better wine pairing than bubbles. It’s Christmas, so pull out the ‘champagne’ of Italian bubbles with a bottle of Franciacorta. We like the Barone Pizzini Franciacorta especially with some fried sage leaves or a platter of cured salami and prosciutto. The acidity cuts through the fatty meats perfectly. 

      • Color: Pale straw yellow
      • Style: Silky 
      • Flavor: citrus and mineral

      3. Primo: Tortellini in brodo with Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

      It would be almost sacriligious to not include a pasta course during Italian Christmas! The most typical is some kind of filled pasta served with brodo or broth. In Andrea’s native Piedmont region, we always enjoyed agnolotti in brodo as our first course whilst in Tuscany the locals tuck into a bowl of tortellini. We recommend pairing this with a Verdicchio from Le Marche.  Try Tenuta di Tavignano’s Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi Classico Superiore.

      • Color: Deep straw yellow
      • Style: Juicy freshness
      • Flavor: Summer fruit, lime, blossom and almond

       

      4. Secondo: Stuffed Guinea Fowl with Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino 

      When it comes to the main course, there’s normally a stuffed chicken, pheasant, guinea fowl or braised veal on the menu. This year for our Italian Christmas dinner, we’re serving a roast guinea fowl stuffed with provola cheese. Given that this meat is a little gamey, and to pair with its succulent taste, we recommend an important wine like a Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino. Our top pick for Barolo this year is the 2016 Massolino Barolo which is a real special occassion wine from one of the most incredible vintages.

      • Color: Deep garnet red
      • Style: Dark and full-bodied
      • Flavor: cherry, strawberry and rose

      5. Dolce: Panettone with Asti Spumante

      Last but not least, it’s not Italian Christmas without a slice of panettone! The typical pairing is with a Moscato d’Asti to end with a little more bubbles. We like the GD Vajra Moscato for a classic choice.

      • Color: Pale straw color with fine bubbles
      • Style: low alcohol, sweet wine
      • Flavor: white peach, tropical fruit, candied lemon, sage 

      Inspired to try Italian wines this Christmas? Let us know your favorite wines to pair with your Christmas meal in the comments below. Salute!

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