Take a cue from Italy: apply the brakes once in a while and enjoy this trio of menu and wine pairings, along with ideas for creating a leisurely dinner party with a distinctly Italian flair.
This is the region of Venice. The seafood and rice dishes from Veneto are natural partners with the region's light and refreshing Soave white wines. Get things going with an anti-pasta platter and a nice glass of Prosecco, sparkling wine from the Veneto region.
Pair this Tuscan dinner with one of the region's Sangiovese-based wines--a violet-scented Chianti Classico, a Brunello or Rosso di Montalcino, or an elegant Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. If you leave room for dessert, enjoy almond biscotti with a splash of Vin Santo, the sweet Tuscan dessert wine.
The wines of Piedmont are robust and full-bodied, a perfect pairing for a rich, flavorful dinner like this. If you're feeling spendy, break out the Barolo. A Barbaresco, also made from Nebbiolo grapes, is another great option. If you prefer a wine that's a little more fresh and lively, try a Barbera from Alba or Asti. Feeling festive? Kick off dinner with a sparkling wine from Asti.
La Dolce Vita
Your Italian celebration of "the sweet life" should be savored over a casual afternoon and into the evening.
- Spread a tablecloth, fill vases with fresh flowers and use candles or string up fairy lights to create a little magic as night falls.
- Write your dinner invitations on postcards of Italian art, architecture or scenery, and let all the details, from your decorations to your background music, set the mood for a relaxing meal in an Italian villa.
- Stimulate appetites before dinner with Campari and soda cocktails, and end your evening hours later with small cups of espresso served with twists of lemon rind.
- To top off the night, send your guests home with little bags of biscotti or--if they're up for some fun--miniature Ferraris. Forza Italia!