Wine, bread and cured meats

Levoni and Vinibuoni

That of cured meats is one of the important key cultural threads we can use to tell the story of Italy.

The reasons behind this strong bond lie in the peasant traditions which, for centuries, turned a necessity into art, transforming meat into cured meats. Indeed until a few years ago in our countryside there were always at least one ham, one coppa or one salami aging Even now there is no territory that does not count at least one traditional product deriving from the meat processing , although using different methods, ingredients and expedients, whose roots are grounded in the past and that are passed down since centuries. This ancient tradition is associated with the consumption of wine which, over the years, suggested proper and consolidated matches with food.

Nutrition and gastronomic culture

In the past, the word “ matching” was rare in everyday language, since cold cuts and wine were part of a single common denominator, being both suitable to fill up the stomach to contrast hunger .Only after nutrition turned into “gastronomy” did the cutting board with cold cuts, like fine cuisine, gain its artistic role and bon ton connotation.

Food and Wine matching and tradition

The regional features of cold cuts suggest almost always a matching with a wine from the same area, to exalt the affinity of aromas and flavours which time has strengthen in the taste and memory of locals, and that becomes an element of curiosity and awareness for those who love rediscovering tastes and knowledge of Italy’s food and wine traditional culture. Wine and food pairing techniques, as per tradition, leave the doors open to many other possible interpretations based on organoleptic analysis of cold cuts and wine, and on the subsequent collection of more precise sensorial data.

The sensations

On the basis of these assumptions, the sensations emerging from cured meats are isolated and then matched with a wine that can blend in harmoniously. Among the sensations that can be perceived in cured meats a tendency to mildness and sweetness stands out, along with fatness and succulence. Stronger sensations include sapidity, spiciness and fragrance. Together with these perceptions, persistence and structure, common features of cured meats, are taken into consideration. Taking then into account the sensorial profile, accordingly to specific cases, the tendency suggests cool white or rosé wines, moderately mild, soft, floral and fruity, or structured red wines. Sparkling wine, especially those obtained with the traditional method, are almost always the best choice.

General rules

To balance the fatness and the tendency to sweetness, we will select still or sparkling wines provided that they are cool and savoury. Succulent cold cuts match accordingly with average tannic wines, featured by a coherent alcohol level, while sapidity should be countered by the wine softness. Spiciness and fragrance require wines featuring a greater degree of “intense aromatic persistence” (P.A.I. in Italian) to balance the cold cuts aromatic taste. More structured cold cuts may be combined with full-bodied wines. Nowadays, thanks to the media, the gastronomic culture has seduced the most demanding tastes, therefore making it possible to consolidate both the tradition and the desire to experience unexplored sensations and emotions. The wealthy of knowledge combined with personal taste and experience can reveal multiple levels of harmony, along with a corresponding culinary offer.

Cold cuts and autochthonous wines

The richness of Italian wines, especially those coming from autochthonous vines, represent in their diversity an unlimited mosaic of incentives. In fact these are wines that, similarly to cold cuts, can embody the characteristics of their place of birth. Like cold cuts from the centuries-old Italian pork-butcher’s art, autochthonous Italian wines strengthen the historical memory of eating habits. This means preserving taste sensations, revisiting and innovating in harmony with local culture, but it also means promoting awareness of the country’s excellence of the agrifood heritage. Vinibuoni d’Italia has shared with Levoni the intent of rewriting the universe of flavours deriving from the combination between unique territories and products. This collaboration reveals exciting moments of combination between cold cuts and wine, and actually invites to walk through important traces of Italian tradition and gastronomic history, which deserve to be better known, spread and appreciated.
By Mario Busso
National editor of the “ViniBuoni d’Italia” guide – Touring Editore