What wines to drink during the World Cup?
- Written by Diana Zahuranec
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If you’re a true wine lover, you’ll go for the bottle of Barbera rather than Bud during the World Cup. Toast to your favorite team in style this year, and consider these tips for choosing your wine -- Piemontese wine, of course!
Sparkling: Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante DOCG
The appeal of a peppy fizziness to your game-time drink cannot be underestimated. A sparkling wine makes any gathering a lively, refreshing celebration. Plus, depending on where in the world you live, you may be drinking in the afternoon, when a full-bodied red wine might be too heavy for the heat. Nothing is more pleasing than a crisp glass of bubbly in the afternoon.
Erbaluce di Caluso spumante DOCG is made from the Erbaluce grape in the Canavese area (that’s included in the Torinese wine zone). It has a fine, persistent perlage and a delicate aroma. In the mouth, it is characterized with a dry, fresh fruitiness, ideal for a before-dinner drink and completely adaptable to finger foods.
White wine: Gavi DOCG
Although the temperatures in Italy are currently (weirdly) cool and rainy after a week of smothering mid-90s weather, I suspect it'll climb higher in the days to come. When that happens, I want drops of condensation forming on a cold glass of white wine. Nothing too aromatic, but something with a proper zing to it: you’re watching the World Cup, after all, not leisurely twirling your glass on the terrace.
A Gavi DOCG will do nicely here. Gavi DOCG is made from the Cortese grape, which has found its calling in a small, restricted area in the province of Alessandria. It’s a finely balanced wine with great minerality, a tangy spritz of citrus, and a unique aroma that seems to gather the salt and herbs of the Mediterranean and freshness of the Apennine Mountains in a glass. It goes perfectly with fish-based dishes like pasta d’acciughe (pasta with anchovies, a savory dish bursting with umami) and a variety of risotto dishes.
Red wine: Barbera d’Alba
If you’re like me, there is always a time and place for red wine. This time and place – the World Cup – does not call for a complex red wine to be pondered over while delicately sampling a gourmet dinner. Instead, look for something vibrant and quickly palatable, a wine that goes well with a game-time menu. Barbera immediately comes to mind.
I would go for a Barbera d’Alba, which tends to be more robust, powerful, and fruity than the Barbera d’Asti. It is an immediately likeable wine that doesn’t require a lot of rumination to appreciate. Plus, it goes well with a whole gamut of first dishes – from pizza to anything with a red tomato sauce – and also meat, so its versatility helps keep everything simple. And according to Fiona Beckett, it even pairs well with spicy foods like Mexican – just don’t tell the Italians I said it!
Cover photo of wine glasses from Jaydot, Creative Commons; edited. License found here.
I love Piemonte’s food and wine, the city of Turin, and my proximity to the Alps! My goal and challenge is to see as much of the region as possible using public transportation, but if you have a car I’d appreciate the ride. My intro to wine was at the Univ. of Gastronomic Sciences, and I love visiting family wineries, plus discovering Piemonte's craft beer scene. I’m hard-pressed to choose a favorite wine, but Nebbiolo never disappoints (from Barbaresco to Ghemme). As for beer, the Birrificio San Michele makes an incredible beechwood smoked brew.