Wine is one of the most important elements is traditional Florentine culture and gastronomy; it would therefore be quite unthinkable not to dedicate some proper attention to this most harmonious and enjoyable partner at our table.
In such a limited space, I can indicate only a few general guidelines which, if not followed, could spoil even the most delicious of meals.
1. Wines should be drunk in the following order: first the light, delicately flavoured whites, then the more aromatic whites, rosés and lastly the reds, starting with the lighter and proceeding to more full-bodied.
2. Heavier and sweeter wines should never be served with red meats and game but with desserts and even well-matured, strongly-flavoured cheeses.
3. Drink some natural mineral water after tasting a wine in order to better appreciate the next one.
4. An entire meal can be based around one particularly rare or special wine.
5. The most important wines, such as Brunello or some of the Chianti Classico Riserva, must be served chambré at room temperature (20º-22º C.) - and opened at least an hour before serving. Very old wines should be decanted slowly and gently into a carafe or decanter.
To help you recognise the main varieties of wine produced in Tuscany, I have written brief, but hopefully adequate, descriptions of each major wine. I have also indicated the foods they best compliment. Do remember however, that such advice is not meant to be definitive as it can only be based on the overall, general characteristics of each kind of wine. For example, a particularly full-bodied Vernaccia from San Gimignano (several vintages come to mind) might be quite delicious with some of the more spicy, Tuscan cured hams.
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