Tastes of Italy: wine and food pairings in the wine regions

Foods and wine of a region flock together: a food and wine journey exploring the art of pairing in the wake of terroir. We discover regional delicacies from Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Sicily.

Barbara Fassio
Barbara Fassio
vino e abbinamenti

The art of pairing food and wine may seem like uncharted territory for many, bot there’s a way to kickstart your gastronomic journey effortlessly and with delicious results. Often, the secret lies in staying true to your roots, in exploring the culinary and oenological pleasures of the same region. Matching dishes and wines from the same geographical area can prove to be the perfect starting point for those venturing into this captivating world. Every region boasts its culinary specialties and grape varieties, and discovering how they harmonize can lead to surprising gustatory revelations.


Food and wine pairing involves a series of considerations, including the texture, flavor, and intensity of the dishes and wines in question. One of the most commonly employed techniques is pairing for complementarity. In this approach, the aim is to balance and enhance the characteristics of both food and wine, creating a combination more delightful than they would be separately. For instance, a rich and creamy dish can be paired with a wine boasting lively acidity to cut through the richness and establish a harmonious equilibrium. However, one often overlooked aspect of this equation is the geographical origin of both the food and wine. Each region has its unique oenological history, with indigenous grape varieties and a concept of ‘terroir’ that influences the character of the wines. These regional factors can lead to surprisingly successful pairings, as the ingredients used in various recipes and the wine often share similar cultural and geographical roots.

vino e abbinamenti

A quick recap for those new to the term terroir. Borrowed from our French cousins (who, let’s admit it, know a thing or two about wine), the term terroir refers to the combination of factors such as climate, soil, and topography that impart a distinctive character to grapes and, consequently, to wine. This concept explains why the same grape variety grown in two different regions can produce wines with completely different aromas and flavors. For instance, Nebbiolo in Piedmont transforms into an elegant Barolo, while in Lombardy, it becomes a powerful Sforzato. These regional nuances, as you can imagine, make food and wine pairing an even more fascinating experience because traditional dishes often pair perfectly with the native wines of the same area, creating unique gustatory harmonies that tell the story and culture of that region.

Furthermore, it’s not difficult to imagine why some pairings are so deeply rooted in regional culinary traditions. In the past, it wasn’t as easy or immediate to have the variety of ingredients we enjoy today; the constant availability of every product is characteristic of our era. Our grandparents primarily ate and drank what their land produced, and with what was at their disposal, they crafted recipes that still don’t disappoint to this day.

Let’s discover together some pairings that will surely impress your guests. In this article, we will explore three Italian regions – Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Sicily – and uncover which traditional dishes pair impeccably with local wines. But keep following us, as our journey will soon take us to other regions, with new pairings to discover.


Veneto, one of Italy’s gastronomic treasures, offers an extraordinary variety of wines thanks to its geographical location and favorable climate. This region is renowned for its white wines like Prosecco and Soave, but it is also the homeland of exceptional reds, including Amarone della Valpolicella and Valpolicella Classico. The diversity of indigenous grape varieties such as Garganega, Corvina, and Molinara, combined with the diverse terroir, contributes to creating wines with unique characteristics.

Veal Liver with Amarone della Valpolicella

Veal liver ‘alla Vicentina’ is one of the most celebrated dishes in Veneto, known for its delicacy and rich flavor. Amarone della Valpolicella with its complexity and hints of dried fruit is the perfect companion for veal liver ‘alla Vicentina’. This pairing creates a perfect balance between the tenderness of the meat and the structure of the wine.

Creamed Cod with Garganega Soave

Creamed cod is a beloved Venetian specialty known for its creaminess and delicate flavor. Pair it with a Soave, a fresh and fragrant white wine primarily made from the Garganega grape variety. The acidity of Soave contrasts excellently with the creaminess of the cod, creating a delightful pairing.

To enhance your tasting experience, pair the creamed cod with a side of piping-hot polenta, an essential in Venetian cuisine – often served with a variety of toppings like mushrooms, sausages, or Asiago cheese. The freshness and lively acidity of the Soave will balance the richness of the polenta.

Sardines in Saor with Valpolicella Classico

Sardines in Saor (in Venetian dialect means they are tasty) are another traditional Venetian dish, characterized by a blend of sweet and sour flavors with hints of onions and raisins. Pair them with Valpolicella Classico, a fruity and light red wine. The balance between the wine’s sweetness and acidity harmonizes perfectly with the Saor nuances, creating a tasty pairing.

If you’re looking for the perfect side dish to complement this wine, we recommend grilled radicchio, a highly regarded dish in Veneto for its bitter-sweet flavor and smoky touch. The pairing with Valpolicella Classico is ideal: the wine’s fruitiness intertwines with the bitterness of the radicchio, creating a harmonious balance. Veneto, with its array of wines and traditional dishes, offers an unparalleled gastronomic experience. These regional food and wine pairings are just a taste of the culinary and oenological richness of this region. Delving further into Veneto means discovering a world of flavors that narrate centuries-old tales of tradition and a passion for great food and fine wine.


Emilia-Romagna is universally celebrated for its fresh pasta and high-quality dairy products. But it’s not just the cuisine that shines here; Emilia-Romagna is also known for its wines, including Lambrusco, Albana, Sangiovese, and Pignoletto. These wines reflect the diversity of Emilia-Romagna’s terroirs and the region’s passion for producing high-quality wines.

Tagliatelle with Bolognese Ragù and Sangiovese

Emilia-Romagna is the homeland of the famous Bolognese ragù, known worldwide. Pair tagliatelle with ragù Bolognese with a glass of Sangiovese, a versatile red wine with notes of red fruits and spices. Sangiovese complements the richness of the ragù and fresh pasta perfectly, creating a classic pairing that satisfies all palates.

Prosciutto di Parma with Lambrusco

Prosciutto di Parma is an icon of Emilia-Romagna, known for its delicate and salty flavor. Enhance it with a glass of Lambrusco, the sparkling wine native to the region. The lively effervescence and fruity taste of Lambrusco contrast beautifully with the sweetness of the prosciutto, creating a fresh and pleasantly harmonious pairing. We want to tempt you further and add another indulgent dish, perfect for sharing: tigelle. These small round bread rolls, traditionally served with cold cuts (did someone say Parma ham?), cheese, and various condiments, also pair wonderfully with a glass of Lambrusco.

Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese with Albana Passito

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a gastronomic treasure of Emilia-Romagna, perhaps the most well-known and beloved Italian product worldwide… how could we not mention it? With its granular texture and complex flavor, it pairs wonderfully with Albana Passito, a sweet and aromatic white wine. The wine’s sweetness contrasts with the saltiness of the cheese, creating an utterly delectable pairing.

Emilia-Romagna offers a wide range of food and wine pairing options, from rich pastas to meat and cheese dishes. These combinations reflect the generosity and culinary tradition of this extraordinary Italian region. Exploring the flavors of Emilia-Romagna immerses you in a gastronomic culture rich in history and passion.


Sicily is a true haven of flavours, and it’s no surprise that its dishes and wines are equally exceptional. This island is celebrated for its cuisine rich in Mediterranean influences, featuring fresh ingredients and bold flavours. But Sicily isn’t just renowned for its food; it’s also the homeland of extraordinary wines, including Nero d’Avola, Grillo, Catarratto, and Marsala. Its volcanic soil and warm climate foster the cultivation of unique grapes, giving birth to wines with strong and distinctive personalities.

Sicilian Caponata with Nero d’Avola

Caponata is an iconic dish of Sicilian cuisine, prepared with eggplants, olives, capers, and tomatoes in a sweet and sour mix. Pair caponata with a glass of Nero d’Avola, a robust red wine with hints of black fruit and spices. Its intensity marries perfectly with the complexity of caponata, creating a surprising pairing.

Arancini with Grillo

Arancini are rice balls traditionally stuffed with ragù or cheese and then fried to perfection. Pair these delights with a Grillo, a fresh and fruity Sicilian white wine. The crispness of Grillo contrasts with the deep-frying of the arancini, creating a balanced and tasty combination.

Swordfish Sicilian Style with Catarratto

Swordfish is a Sicilian specialty often prepared with ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and capers. Serve this dish with a glass of Catarratto, a dry and aromatic white wine. The wine’s acidity blends seamlessly with the Mediterranean flavors of the swordfish, delivering a sea-infused pairing.

Sicily offers a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience; these food and wine pairings (and not just these!) allow you to explore the vibrant flavors of the island and appreciate the diversity and passion that define its culinary tradition. Explore Sicily through an exciting journey into Mediterranean culture.