Wine is meant to go with food and can greatly enhance the overall experience of enjoying a meal. The old rules about red with red meat and white with fish are no longer considered the main criteria for good pairings. These days, you get to think creatively and follow your own wishes. Truthfully, as many Sicilian winemakers and producers will tell you, rules are passé; those who love red wines tend to drink them no matter what’s being served, and vice versa for white wine lovers.
Below are a couple of ideas for pairing some nice Italian wines with a twist or two on some popular menu items like fried chicken. We’re recommending a couple of Sicilia DOC wines (the label that guarantees consistent quality in wines from Sicily) we tried recently; molto bene with food!
Fried Chicken Sandwich with Kimchee Slaw
This dish pairs one of America’s favorite foods, fried chicken, with the zing and romance of Asian spices in a vegetable mix that includes the fermented, super-healthy goodness of Kimchee along with fresh, crisp vegetables. Serves 4. The spicy fried goodness goes beautifully with a glass of fresh and fruit-forward red like Stemmari 2013 Nero d’Avola Sicilia DOC. Enjoy its intense bouquet with notes of currant, wild strawberry and pomegranate. Try Nero d’Avola wines with Thai sauces and Middle Eastern spices, too.
- 1-1/2 c shredded Napa or Savoy cabbage
- 3/4 c hot or mild Kimchee, chopped a bit if large
- 1/2 c shredded carrot
- 1/4 c thinly sliced red onion
- Tbsp Gochujang (Korean chili paste) or substitute sriracha or Sambal Oelek
- 1/4 c mayonnaise
- 1/4 c chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 c flour
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 c buttermilk
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise (if thick, pound the meat to flatten)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 4 sandwich rolls
1. For the slaw, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2. For cooking the chicken, choose a pot that will hold two of the chicken pieces comfortably. Fill with oil to the depth of one inch and heat over medium high to 350.
3. Stir the flour, salt and pepper together in a shallow bowl.
4. Pour the buttermilk into a small bowl.
5. When the oil is hot, dredge a piece of chicken in the flour, then dunk in the buttermilk, and dredge again in the flour, shaking off excess. Drop it gently into the oil. Repeat with a second piece of chicken. Fry about 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Lift out with a strainer spatula and let chicken pieces rest on a wire rack. Fry the remaining chicken pieces in the same way
6. Place a chicken piece on half a bun and top with a generous amount of the Kimchee Slaw and the other half of the bun.
Spiral Zucchini Noodles with Pesto
We Americans love our pasta like the Italians, but somehow we just seem to eat too many carbs. Enter: vegetable “noodles.” Zucchini pasta with pesto and pine nuts pairs perfectly with a fresh Grillo from the western and coastal regions of Sicily. A good example is Stemmari Grillo Sicilia DOC with its aromas of vibrant tropical fruits mango and papaya, complex mineral notes and bright acidity that accent the herbal pesto and balance the nuttiness and richness of the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Recipe serves 4.
- 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium zucchini
- Salt and Black Pepper
1. In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, and garlic and pulse until coarsely chopped.
2. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and pulse again until the oil is fully incorporated. Add remaining oil and cheese and pulse until smooth. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
5. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
6. Using a spiralizer or mandoline, make long, thin ‘noodles’ out of the zucchini.
7. When the water is boiling, add some salt and the zucchini and blanch for less than a minute.
8. Drain the zucchini, mix with the pesto and serve.