Friday, January 26, 2018

My Diet Pairs Well with Barolo

I am on a diet. I need a wine to pair with my diet. Or a diet to pair with my wine. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

One of the go-to dishes if I want to shed some pounds is my Italian-inspired salad. OK, I am not really sure if it is Italian, but it has salami and all kinds of deliciousness. (Check out my recipe below.) I believe an Italian red is called for.

When people think of Italian reds, most people think Sangiovese, the grape variety that is the backbone of Chianti and the darling of Italian wine marketing. Few other Italian grapes have received the same level of attention, not even the noble Nebbiolo. But I'd like to focus on Nebbiolo instead.

Nebbiolo is native to the Piedmont region, which lies in the northwestern part of Italy, bordering France. If the shape of Italy reminds you of an over-the-knee boot, then Piedmont would be in the thigh area.

Oftentimes, Nebbiolo is compared with Pinot Noir. Both are finicky grapes that grow well only in certain terroir. They are also both genetically unstable and prone to mutations. Both varieties have thin skins that produce light-colored but highly-perfumed reds. While Pinot Noir is best expressed in Burgundy, Nebbiolo is best expressed in Barolo, located in the south side of Piedmont.

Barolo wine is considered a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), the highest classification of Italian wines. There are two methods in making Barolo today: the traditional and the modernist. Barolo made using the traditional approach is oaked for three years before bottling and aged for five years before release. The resulting Barolo is complex and extremely cellar-worthy, with the ability to age for decades. The modernist method of making Barolo favors shorter maceration with two years in oak and one year in bottle prior to release. The modern Barolo is more fruit-forward and less complex. While it can age for over a decade easily, it still pales in comparison with a traditional Barolo.

My Barolo collection

Now for my Italian-inspired salad diet, I chose the 2009 Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga d'Alba, a more modern expression of Barolo. On the nose, it is gently scented with rose and red fruit. Typical for a Barolo, the 2009 vintage is young on the palate, with lively acidity and firm tannins, earthy and stewed plum-y.

Why does Barolo work with my Italian-inspired salad? First, a confession - I am a Barolo fiend. I am already biased. As you can see, my salad is rather hearty. There is a fried egg, salami pieces, and crumbled blue cheese. The salty, savory, fatty elements work well with a high-acidity, tannic Barolo. Also the flavors of the dressed greens, chickpeas, peppers, and avocado work really well with the fruitiness of the wine.

Adrienne's Italian-Inspired Salad (serving for 2)

Adrienne's Italian-inspired salad 
1 tbsp of good balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp of EVOO
1 tsp of Dijon Mustard
1 tsp of chopped garlic (I use garlic instead of shallots, a trick I picked up from my friend, Virginia)
Season to taste with salt and pepper

2-3 cups of organic mix greens
Thin slices of red onion
1/4 cup of chickpeas (I use the canned version, rinsed and drained)
1/4-1/3 avocado, diced
1 tbsp chopped pickled peppers (I use Mama Lil's) 
Crumbled blue cheese (as much as your diet allows you to add)
5 slices of salami, torn into small pieces
2 fried eggs over medium (chopped hard-boiled eggs will work too!)

I'm really thrilled with this pairing. It is delicious IMHO. Perhaps next I will write about My Valentine Pairs Well with Barolo.

Disclaimer: Following this diet may not lead to actual weight loss. However, it makes you feel better as you sip some Barolo.