Wine of the Moment: Monti Guidi del Carmine Pecorino

From time to time, we’d like to highlight some specific wines we’ve found that go really well with food, whether it’s home cooking or dining out. First of all, I’m not a huge fan of Pennsylvania’s state-controlled wine & spirits stores, so it’s particularly gratifying to find a wine that we are really happy to recommend. Second, Philadelphia has a wonderful array of BYOB restaurants, but it can be especially challenging to find wines at the state store that will go well with a variety of dishes, particularly when you don’t know exactly will be on the menu until you get to the restaurant. We hope our suggestions are helpful; we’re all in this together!

Monti Guidi del Carmine Pecorino 2010

Monti Guide del Carmine Pecorino (2010, Terre di Chieti IGT) is a perfect example of an extremely versatile white wine that can complement many different dishes. It is made from 100% Pecorino grapes from Chieti, which is in the Abruzzo region of Italy. It has a pale straw color, a crisp and refreshing mouthfeel, and I primarily taste flavors of pear and melon. Those are my own impressions, and the winemaker’s tasting notes are as follows:

Pecorino is quite full-bodied wine with only moderate acidity, often showing flavors and aromas of yellow fruits, ground white spices like ginger and white pepper, and nuts, especially almonds and hazelnuts. Nice scents of green apples, bananas.

Now, onto the food pairings. First of all, this is a fantastic wine with seafood. On a business trip to Chicago, I had a different pecorino with grilled octopus, and that was such a memorable pairing that it led me to give this wine a try. We’ve had the Monti Guidi del Carmine Pecorino at home several times with scallops, bacon, cannellini beans, and veggies, and each time we’ve been impressed with how well the flavors of the wine bring out different characteristics of the food, particularly the salt and char on our scallops and the sweetness of the bacon.

Seared Scallops with Beans, Bacon and Russian Kale

Generally, when we go to a BYOB we like to bring one bottle of a versatile white wine, such as this one, and one bottle of a food-friendly, light-bodied red wine. However, at our recent trip to Pumpkin BYOB, we brought two white wines, and we had the pecorino with our entrées, which were skate wing with pistachio, endive, and buerre noisette for me, and Duroc pork loin with savoy cabbage, quince, and turnips for Tom. As expected, the wine went well with the fish, but it was also surprisingly nice with the pork. It fared very well with the bitter endives and turnips from both of our dishes. Probably the standout pairing was the savoy cabbage with Tom’s dish, in which the wine enhanced both the smokiness and caramel flavor of this particular preparation.

To sum up, I would say that this wine goes well with: fishy things, salty things, smoky things (including bacon), and bitter things (including various types of greens). If you think about it, that actually covers a lot of bases. It would make a great wine for most starters, including salads, but it can also be a good wine for entrées if they are seafood, white meat, or vegetable focused. It seems to bring out grilled flavors quite well. We haven’t tried it yet with chicken; I imagine it that would work just fine, but for some reason this wine really screams seafood to me. I’ll bet it would be marvelous with oysters, too.

Monti Guidi del Carmine Pecorino is available as a Chairman’s Selection at “Premium Collection” state stores in Pennsylvania, including the store at 19th and Chestnut in Center City Philadelphia ($12.99, Product code 32469).

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