CHICAGO, Jan. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- As vegetables spiral to the center of the plate and a Southern fried chicken obsession gets a global twist, red and white wines from Sicily are joining the party as diverse and delicious options to complement emerging food trends. Sommeliers and chefs are adding more Sicilian wines to their menus as an affirmation of the grapes' approachability and ability to pair with a variety of food and flavors.
Yet, only a small percentage of Americans (9%) enjoy Sicilian wine regularly. "Sicily has a diverse variety of red and white wines that are brighter, fresher and more drinkable than many people realize," said Antonio Rallo, president of Sicilia DOC, a consortium of 90 wine producers developed to protect, promote and enhance the denomination of origin Sicilia DOC.
The island of Sicily is situated in the middle of the Mediterranean and often is referred to as the original, ancient melting pot as a multi-ethnic crossroad to Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Food & Wine Sommelier of the Year 2013, Joe Campanale, believes that this is exactly what makes Sicilian wines so special.
"Wines emerging from Sicily are a modern representation of the island's varied and diverse cultural influences, climate and landscape," said Campanale. "This makes indigenous Sicilian wines, such as Grillo and Nero d'Avola, a natural – yet exotic – companion with the complex layers of traditional Sicilian flavors as well as international foods."
Campanale adds that Sicily's most popular white grape, Grillo, offers vibrant fruit quality and bright acidity to lighter, more herbal dishes, and is more unique and flavorful than Pinot Grigio and a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. It's also often blended with the native Catarratto grape for a true taste of Sicily.
"Sicily's iconic indigenous red wine grape, Nero d'Avola, brings a range of richness, depth and vibrancy depending on the soil, terrain and style of aging," said Campanale. Nero d'Avola or a Nero d'Avola blended with another native grape, like Frappato, complements instead of competes with grilled, smoky and spicy flavors with a surprising fruitiness that makes it a sophisticated partner with America's trending tastes.
Here are some recommended Sicilia DOC pairings from the many diverse regions of Sicily:
Vegetables Step Up – As Americans are looking to shed the carbs and plant-based diets become mainstream, traditional pasta dishes are spiraling into ribbons of zucchini, asparagus and beets as the next generation spaghetti.
- Try: Zucchini pasta with pesto and pine nuts pairs perfectly with a fresh Grillo from the western and coastal regions of Sicily, including Trapani, Marsala and Menfi. The vibrant tropical fruit quality, complex mineral notes and bright acidity accent the herbal pesto and balance the nutty and rich pine nuts and parmesan cheese.
Comfort Foods Get Creative – Comfort foods will never go away, but they are moving onto the next phase as dishes like fried chicken and traditional hash are folding in foreign flavors, such as Korean fermented vegetables, Thai sauces and Middle Eastern spices.
- Try: A Southern fried chicken sandwich topped with a kimchi cabbage slaw makes a surprising partner with a fruit-forward and fresh Nero d'Avola or Nero d'Avola and Frappato blend from the regions of Caltanissetta, Trapani and the south and southeast regions of Ragusa, and Siracusa. Sometimes likened to a Pinot Noir, the low tannins in the wine help bring out the tangy, spicy and complex flavors in the fermented kimchi.
Starring….Sausage – Move over, bacon. This year, a new contender is stepping up: sausage. Sausage is synonymous with flavor and versatility, and its range of varieties, such as chorizo, Andouille, pork and chicken, is the base of an endless array of local backyard barbecue fare and international dishes alike.
- Try: Asian-inspired lettuce wraps with spicy pork sausage, red chilies, noodles and fish sauce are a match with both red and white varieties. A Grillo and Grecanico blend makes a refreshing pair with the red chilies and spicy sausage, and the acid streak prevents it from getting lost in the mix of flavors. Nero D'Avola or Nero D'Avola and Syrah blend gives the complexity of the varying flavors a boost with accents of raspberry, blackberry, spices and herbs.
Up in Smoke – 2016 is all about smoked and charred as proteins, vegetables, fruits and even desserts benefit from the hit of umami you get from smoked food. With simple tools such as wood chips, aluminum foil and a grill, more and more people are hot smoking at home.
- Try: Applewood smoked sweet and spicy ribs and a rich, single varietal Nero d'Avola are a match made in heaven. Nero d'Avola grown on clay and deep soils throughout the southern and eastern regions of Sicily will be more intense with aromas of ripe cherry, rose, sweet spices, licorice and cocoa – flavors that parallel the spicy and smoky ribs.
Hello, Harissa – Hailed as the next Sriracha, the North African chili pepper paste reflects a convergence of trends, including a craving for more complex heat and the impact of Eastern Mediterranean food influences. Harissa adds depth to cooked vegetables and meats with lively notes of garlic and other Mediterranean seasonings.
- Try: Roasted cauliflower steaks drizzled in a honey and harissa sauce can be served as a side or a light entrée. Pair the dish with a more structured and mature Grillo or Grecanico from further inland along the hills of Sicily. These wines carry notes of flowers and Mediterranean fruit that would delectably accompany the sweet and spicy honey and harissa sauce.
Look on the label to discover Sicilia DOC wines at your local wine shop and on restaurant menus. To explore Sicily and Sicilian wines either on your mobile or desktop, follow us on Facebook and Twitter or check out Wines of Sicily and learn about the island's diverse grapes, meet its passionate wine makers, hear about local tasting events and find delicious wine and food pairings.
About DOC Sicilia
Consorzio di Tutela Vini DOC "Sicilia," recognized by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies, aims to strengthen the identity of Sicilian wines, while improving their quality, image and market position. The DOC Sicilia designation introduced in November 2011 includes lower maximum yields per hectare compared with the former IGT regulations. This way, winegrowers aim is quality improvement of their wines in spite of production yields. One of the primary objectives of the consortium is to take the name and brand of the DOC throughout Italy and all over the world. For further information, please visit Wines of Sicily.
Sources: Baum + Whitman International 2016 Trends, Flavor and the Menu Top 10 Trends 2016, Sterling-Rice Group's 10 Cutting-Edge Trends, Technomic's 2016 Food Trends
Food & Wine Sommelier Of The Year 2013.Follow Joe on Twitter and Instagram @joecampanale.
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SOURCE Sicilia DOC