It’s snowing today, just in time for Christmas.
Christmas is white in our corner of the Earth, so the rare lack of snow leading up to the holidays has been welcomed, but is also just slightly disconcerting. Winter simply never skips Minnesota, though; sooner or later it will come. So, as far as we are concerned it might as well snow now, on the eve of Christmas Eve, before we are all out on the roads traveling to the homes of family and friends. A layer of pretty white snow will brighten the landscape and bring holiday cheer.
Plus, we’ve finished wrapping our gifts, bought the groceries for Christmas Eve dinner, and selected enough wine to carry us through the New Year. Today we will start a fire, read a book or watch a movie and wait for Christmas to come.
Due Spaghetti’s Christmas Eve Dinner Menu
We smiled today as we read the many articles about the classic Italian-American tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fish on Christmas Eve. This tradition, sacred to many Italian Americans, is unheard of in Italy. Seafood, however, is commonly the focus of the Christmas Eve meal in Italy, in accordance with the Roman Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays and on certain holy days.
We are preparing the following seafood-based Christmas Eve meal for our family:
Insalata di polpo
Crostini con salmone e arugula
Smoked Salmon and Arugula Crostini
(Prosecco Rustico, Nino Franco)
Spaghetti del pescatore
Spaghetti with Seafood
(Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, 2010 Luchetti)
Pesce al cartoccio
Red Snapper, baked ‘al cartoccio’
(Fiano di Avellino, 2008 Jovis)
Insalata di arance
Orange and Fennel Salad
Patate al forno
Oven Roasted Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes
Parfait di panettone e zabaglione
Panettone and Zabaglione Parfait
(Moscato, Bartenura 2010)
Due Spaghetti’s Holiday Wine Guide
If you are wondering about wines to pair with your own Christmas Eve and Christmas meal, if you’d like to gift a nice bottle or two, or if you simply want to have some good wine on hand over the holidays, here are a few of Due Spaghetti’s favorites:
Pass on the Champagne and toast to happiness and good health with an Italian Prosecco. Produced in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, Prosecco is light, crisp, aromatic and dry – a more uplifting sparkling wine than its French cousin. One favorite is Col Vetoraz Prosecco.
Another Italian sparkling wine we enjoy is Moscato d’Asti. Sweet and light, it is a traditional Christmas dessert wine.
Finally, for a sparkling sweet red also light with overtures of strawberry, try a Brachetto or Brachetto d’Acqui.
Sure, there are plenty of good bottles of Italian Pinot Grigio. But there are even more exciting whites, many from from central and southern Italy. A few of our favorites are:
Verdicchio – A wine from the Marche region on Italy’s Adriatic coast; its name is derived from the wine’s slightly green hue.
Falanghina – Produced from grapes that grow in the hills surrounding Mount Vesuvius, this wine was unheard of until recently, but is quickly becoming a hit.
Fiano di Avellino – This is another favorite wine that originates, like Falanghina, from the Campania region of southern Italy. The Fiano grape also grows in volcanic soils, and Fiano di Avellino has a very slight sparkling quality.
Insolia – This Sicilian white is also lightly sparkling, and has a fresh citrus scent.
Arneis – This white is a stand-out from the Piedmont region, where reds rule. It’s a full-bodied but refreshing and unique Italian white wine.
Distinguished Italian Reds recognized for their elegance and quality are Amarone, Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino. They will make a powerful impression on any table or as any gift.
Super Tuscans are also guaranteed to impress. Super Tuscans are wines that are created when producers intentionally deviate from the standard blending requirements for DOC. and DOCG wines. Sassicaia, Tignanello, Solaia and Ornellaia are excellent Super Tuscan wines.
Other lesser known Italian reds that we like are:
Aglianico – Aglianico is the name of a black grape from the south of Italy that produces a deeply hued and intensely flavored red wine. Two to look for are Aglianico del Vulture and Taurasi. These wines have yet to attract widespread attention, but it is only a matter of time.
Primitivo – The Primitivo is a parent grape to Zinfandel, and comparisons between Primitivo and Zinfandel abound. This is an economical, pleasant and out-of-the-ordinary Italian red.
Lagrein – Made from grapes grown at the foot of the Swiss Alps, this powerful red from Italy’s Alto Adige region is making a come back.
Here’s to cold nights, warm friends, and good drink to give them!