Wine & Food

Snooth User: cdt

owner/cooking school

Posted by cdt, Feb 13, 2010.

I own Cucina della Terra, a cooking school in the beautiful countryside of Umbria, Italy. I'm always looking for the perfect pairings of local umbrian wines with foods Would like some recommendations for pizza topped with artichokes, buffalo mozzarella, parmegiano, caramelized onions. Thanks.


Reply by dmcker, Feb 13, 2010.

On a separate but related subject, what wine do you find matches best with a range of artichoke recipes, whether as pizza topping, just boiled or steamed, or baked au gratin or...?

Reply by dirkwdeyoung, Feb 13, 2010.

I mostly enjoy artichoke with a vinaigrette, thus without wine. For the pizza you mentioned there, why not with a Chianti? If you insist on Umbrian wines, well I don't really know about them, but thanks to your comment have done some reading up. I can say that a wine I tried recently would be perfect with your pizza, Planeta la Segreta Rosso from Sicily, do your Umbrian wines taste like that?

Reply by bropaul, Feb 16, 2010.

Hmmm, I thought I posted a reply a few days ago. Anyway, I have always found artichokes hard to pair. In Rome, where I lived for many years artichokes appear a lot and most often are drunk with the local wine, Frascati. I would think that would work fine, especially if you look for a Frascati Superiore with a little more complexity. I also think an Orvieto that wasn't bone dry would go well. When I lived in Rome one of our regular wines came right from your region, Colli Trasimeno.

Reply by cdt, Feb 16, 2010.

Thanks so much for the suggestion. I'm chuckling to myself as I think of artichokes in Italy because my young neighbor across the street grows them on his front lawn and doesn't know what to do with them! On occasion he's offered me his bounty. I wouldn't have thought of the Colli Trasimeno or Frascati, but now that you mention it, I'm going to try them with this pizza. As for the Orvieto, I'm fond of Palazone Classic Superiore but never thought to pair it with artichokes. BTW, it's easier to find a good Frascati here in the states than in Umbria since all the stores remain so regional. Thanks again.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 17, 2010.

I grew up in an agricultural family in California and we had artichokes on the table all year round, whether fresh (most commonly boiled or steamed just with homemade mayonnaise), marinated or home-canned and then baked or sauteed in a number of dishes, or with the hearts used as the central part of a number of appetizers. Anytime we wanted any and they weren't in our own yards or fields we just visited friends and relatives in the Monterey area and came home with trunkfulls.

I live in Japan now, and artichokes are very few on the ground, so I have to rely more on the marinated and commercially canned versions and the occasional fresh batch from only a couple of shops halfway across the very big town of Tokyo. So ultimately I eat them less and miss them more.

I've also found artichokes just about as hard to match wine to as asparagus; thus my question. Orvieto is something I've tried and has worked for the pizza-type presentation. I've tried dry Alsatian reslings, which were more than OK with a baked gratin dish. Good Burgundian chardonnay has worked with an artichoke quiche I often make, but how I insert what cheese is a big determiner of the strength of the match. Haven't tried Frascati, since good ones are also rare on the ground over here, but will now.

I was hoping for some pointers towards silver-bullet redwine candidates. Any ideas? I've tried sangiovese but it definitely depends on the dish, and has only been foolproof in the kinds of dishes where the artichokes are overpowered by the sauce. Cabs and pinot noirs aren't ideal, and I'm currently trying some blends from the Rhone and other parts of southern France with plenty of grenache and some syrah...

Reply by Cathy Shore, Feb 17, 2010.

Artichokes are one of the trickiest things to match with wine as they tend to make wines taste strangely metallic. I do think that sticking to your roots will help - a good quality Orvieto would work well with your pizza or indeed another Trebbiano based white. Alternatively look for Grechetto di Todi which would work as well.

Reply by GregT, Feb 17, 2010.

Or you might do your guests a real favor and just leave the artichokes off the pizza? That's what I would do.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 17, 2010.

Don't know what you're missin', dude... errhh, Greg. Bet you don't like anchovies on your pizza, either.... ;-)

Reply by GregT, Feb 17, 2010.

Love them. Esp with some sherry. They don't even have to be on pizza. Artichokes on the other hand, SHOULDN'T be on pizza.

See the dif?

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Feb 17, 2010.

If we're staying Italian, I like some high-acid Vermentino or Vernaccia with that pie, although I love Soave with caramelized onions. I suggest trying multiple bottles of all three. ;)

Reply by dmcker, Feb 20, 2010.

Last night I was at a Greek restaurant for a going away party, which was rather loud and boisterous (and *really* got crazy by the third place of the night, but this is not the forum for that story...). We probably ordered some 15 different dishes from the menu to share around the table, and in amongst the saganaki, dolmades, tzatziki, Greek country salad, avgolemono, bekri meze, kefledes, souvlaki and moussaka, I was able to slip in three different artichoke dishes. The anginares à la polita (artichoke hearts and potatoes with dill), koukia me aginares (fava beans and artichoke hearts) and kalamarakia yemista me aginares (squid stuffed with artichokes and herbs), all worked exceptionally well with a good retsina from Tyrnavos that displayed excellent characteristics of a dry Moscato Amvourgou. I have to admit, one of my weaknesses in certain circumstances is for a well made (and there are plenty that ain't) retsina. Too much past time spent in tavernas in Athens, I suppose....

To add to the catalog of acceptable wines with artichokes, I forgot to mention a good manzanilla sherry with Spanish tapas recipes including that vegetable. But then a good fino can go with just about anything, can't it? Thus it also works with artichokes-and-clams or artichoke-almond-fig-saffron tapas, artichokes and shallot salads, or even (to jump to that other tricky vegetable) asparagus wrapped in jamon serrano. Also in a Spanish context I've made an artichoke and squid dish with allioli and sofregit in it that worked just fine both with a Rioja white and a Txakoli (hey Greg, I sometimes put artichoke hearts in my seafood paella, too... ;-) ). And if artichokes are in a good Riojan lamb stew, also including carrots, onions, garlic, parsley, tomatoes, peas and potatoes, why not a Rioja red?

Yeah, I know, all of these are a fair far cry from the pizza above, but as you can likely tell I seem to be on a mission here...

Looks like other people have had trouble with the pairing, too:
I laughed when I saw the tip about adding lemon juice and salt to the water while boiling. Hardly rocket science since I first remember my parents doing that when I was about four years old. I thought everybody did that! ;-)

One person at table last night had other suggestions for matches with artichokes. First was Bourgogne Aligote. Now that's something I wouldn't have considered since I generally relegate that wine to a dusty cubbyhole labeled Kir. She also said she'd had success with crab-and-artichoke-heart appetizers using Muscadet with some age on it. She threw in the advice *not* to match with New Zealand sauvigon blanc, which I thought interesting because she's Aussie and likes a broader range of the wines from those islands across the Tasman Sea than I do. I haven't tried either of these two matches, but maybe I'll let her introduce me to them...

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