Italian Wine Feature: Festive Wine Pairings from the Christmas Menu

Italian Wine Feature: Festive Wine Pairings from the Christmas Menu
Mascalzone are pleased to Welcome back Lewis McKie, our Wine and Food Pairings Expert and Author of  the Blog Words on Wine. In this article Lewis takes a look at the Christmas Menu, and, with a choice of wines from some of the top Italian Wine Regions, runs us through some of his Festive Favourites!

Looking down the Mascalzone Christmas menus, it is the simplicity of the dishes that I love.

Classic flavours of Italy which still pack a punch but won’t have you sleeping long before dessert. Nothing wrong with a roast turkey and all the trimmings but this is a fine and varied alternative with plenty of colour and mouth-watering options.

I’ve selected three wines to tell you about, two for those who are looking for quality without splashing out too much and one for those of you who are feeling a little more extravagant.

Bounded by the Adriatic sea to the east and the mountainous wildness of Umbria and Abruzzo, to the west and south, Marche, one of Italy’s lesser known wine regions, is nevertheless worth talking about.

VERDICCHIO and Conte Rosso Piceno

Mascalzone’s wine list contains several gems including the Verdicchio, a white, and Conte Rosso Piceno, the red.

Verdicchio, a classic Italian white wine, finds its best expression in Marche, in the denomination of Castelli de Jesi, near the city of Ancona, on the coast.

A beautiful region with numerous hilltop castles and cooled by the aforementioned Adriatic, these conditions allow the grapes to thrive. A fine blend of acidity, freshness and lemony, green fruits, this wine is perfect with seafood, such as the Frito Misto, a calamari, prawn and courgette antipasti.

verdicchio is one of the best italian white wines to enjoy with linguine funghi
Linguine Funghi and Verdicchio, the acidity and freshness match up perfectly with the creamy mushroom sauce

Equally delicious would be its pairing with the Linguine Funghi, the acidity and freshness matching up perfectly with the creamy mushroom sauce. Or try it with the Baked Salmon Fiorentina. It would even be a good partner to that Sicilian classic, Arancini, it’s acidity and lemon flavours a perfect complement to richness of the mozzarella-stuffed rice balls.

The red, Conte Rosso Piceno, is made in Ascoli Picena, a charming town in the south of the region surrounded by mountains. With a warm Mediterranean climate, salty sea breezes and the classic Italian landscape of gentle rolling hills, olive groves and cypress trees, it is made from a blend of 50% Sangiovese – the grape that made Tuscany famous – and 50% Montelpulciano which like Verdicchio, thrives here.


This is a wine which is calling out for food pairing. Montelpulciano, traditionally fairly robust is softened by the Sangiovese, creating a relatively light wine with gentle tannins and plenty of black and red fruit flavours.

Perfect again for those of you who don’t want to fall asleep half way through your Christmas lunch!

A wine that is adaptable enough to suit several of the dishes on the plate, even the minestrone soup starter, it is also worth trying with the Ravioli Alla Bergamasca cutting through the richness of the pork sausages and harmonizing with the spiciness of the fennel and sweetness of the cherry tomatoes.

A red of this style will also complement salmon so try it with the Fiorentina dish too. Or the Chicken Valdostana. Chicken, like Salmon, although often seen – correctly – as a white wine food, can be paired with a nice dry red like this one. The tomato sauce, ham and mozzarella flavours accompanying the chicken breast will complement the soft tannins and spice of the wine.


There is one other wine and one other dish which must also be mentioned and this is a truly celebratory match. Perhaps the only red wine in Italy to that comes close to matching the reputation of Barolo, super Tuscans aside. It is Brunello di Montalcino. Made from one hundred per cent Sangiovese grapes, grown around the village of Montalcino in southern Tuscany, high mountains provide shelter from the elements.

fileto alla crescenza and italian wine types
The Brunello’s black fruit and tannins tame the steak and bringing out its sweetness, the acidity cutting through the cream sauce, the aromatics meeting the mushrooms

This combined with the dry climate and cool evenings create intense wines of elegance, power and good acidity, in other words, wines which are a food match made in heaven. Imagine it with the grilled rib-eye steak and a sauce made from cream and mushrooms.

The black fruit and tannins taming the steak and bringing out its sweetness, the acidity cutting through the cream sauce, the aromatics meeting the mushrooms.

Brunello, like Barolo, traditionally needed time for the tannins to soften sufficiently, but modern wine-making techniques, allow the wines to be drunk a little younger. This one from 2011 will be drinking perfectly now.

Buon Appetito e Buon Natale…


Christmas at Mascalzone

At Mascalzone we like to go all out for Christmas and 2018’s Festive Period will be no exception!

Why not make a gift of a Mascalzone Gift Box this Christmas? Our gift boxes contain home made Panettone from the Pasticceria Fraccaro.  Contact Mascalzone to Order Your Christmas Gift Box or drop in to any Location and ask staff for more details.

houston christamas events with panetonne
Mascalzone gift boxes contain home made Panettone from the Pasticceria Fraccaro

Together with this, Mascalzone are taking bookings for Christmas Parties.

If you are still organising a work party or a get together with friends and family Mascalzone would be happy to discuss your requirements.

book your christmas party at mascalzone houston edgware and putney

There will be a choice of 3 Set Menus for Bookings over the festive period.

For more information about booking your Christmas Party at Mascalzone and to take a look at the Christmas Menu please follow the link below:

Book Your Christmas Party at Mascalzone

Take a glance at some of the other dishes on the Mascalzone Menu below:

Author: Lewis McKie

Graduate in French Language and Literature from Glasgow University. Thirteen years in wine trade. Currently developing film scripts whilst blogging on other passions including Wine and Nature.

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