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Sometimes at the ’fo, we just can’t help ourselves. We come across a certain wine and get a little fixated. Okay, a lot. And one of the most recent objects of our infatuation – that’s a mighty Italian red wine called barolo. A drop so legendary, it’s known as the ‘king of Italian wine’.
Light in colour but deep in flavour. Complicated, aromatic, temperamental. Aged for a minimum of three years, but often demanding years more in the cellar. This intriguing DOCG-protected wine is named for a little Italian village in Piedmont and crafted exclusively in the surrounding region using the Nebbiolo grape by 11 wine communes.
Barolo may fall into serious wine nerd territory, but when it comes to food pairing it’s surprisingly democratic for a king – working just as well with luxury dishes as it does with wholesome comfort foods. Roasted meats, hearty tomato stews, even a tender burger – Barolo was made for winter feasting. (We’re salivating a little just thinking about it.) Here are some of our favourites food matches for the noble Barolo.
Burgers and Barolo
Barolo is high in acidity, big on tannins and up there with the alcohol. This all adds up to a perfect foil for indulgent, fattier foods – anything more subtle will be out-muscled. Enter, a juicy burger. Try a tender lamb patty wrapped in a soft white bun with a slice of tomato and aged cheddar. Throw in grilled mushroom for bonus flavour points. We’re a big fan of pairing high-brow wines with low-brow foods, and this combo is an instant classic.
Truffle risotto and Barolo
Piedmont’s other most-famous culinary export is the king of mushrooms: the truffle. And it just so happens that truffle and Barolo are made for each other, with the gamey flavours of the fungi playing up Barolo’s earthiness to perfection. Try a rich truffle risotto with a generous grating of Parmigiano Reggiano. Granted, white (or Alba) truffles are one of the most expensive ingredients on the planet, so we’ll also accept Australian black winter truffles, truffle oil or even some porcini mushroom instead.
Steak tartare and Barolo
Brash, bold tannins are part of the charms of Barolo, but a little balance never goes astray. A wallop of protein balances out the astringency of a Barolo (in simple terms, the tannins of the wine bind with the protein instead of coating your mouth). Carne cruda is a traditional Piedmont dish, pretty much an Italian spin on beef tartare, and protein doesn’t come much purer than raw steak. Raw meat isn’t always an easy wine pairing, but this is a dish fit for the king.
Roast duck and Barolo
The acidic Barolo goes a charm with richer, gamey meats, especially of the feathered kind. If your local butcher is running a little low on pheasant, goose or pigeon, however, then duck is the way to go. Pour a glass along with a whole roasted duck, plus all the trimmings (hello duck-fat potatoes). Think of it like pairing pinot noir and duck, with a little more grunt.
Beef pie and Barolo
If your preferred style of cooking is stewing everything into submission, then Barolo is your wine. A rich veal ragu, Osso Bucco, braised lamb shank – if it features rich meat simmered to tender perfection on low and slow with tomato and/or herbs, then a glass of Barolo is a safe bet. Our top pick – a beef and pepper pie, beef and mushroom or old-school beef and kidney pie in flaky pastry with a bottle of Barolo is comfort food personified.
All hail the king, mofos. Want to beef up your barolo collection?
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