In a country that is known for producing quality red wines, it takes something truly special to stand out from the crowd as one of the absolute best. However, that’s the position that Brunello di Montalcino has been in for a number of decades, particularly since the 1980s when it became the first wine to be awarded the prestigious Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) classification, marking it out as a truly exceptional wine that is to be savoured by all who have the opportunity to try it.
Since those days it has evolved to become one of the most exclusive and expensive wines offered by the Italian wine industry and it finds its roots all the way back in the 14th century, when a wine simply named Brunello was being produced.
Of course, if you manage to get your hands on a bottle you will want to make the most out of the tasting experience. We have spoken previously about the ways you should drink your wine so you get the full experience of the many flavours that are swirling around inside it, but it is also important to pair it with the right foods while dining. Failure to do so can lead to the wine, or the food, being overpowered, so here we thought it would be a good idea to discuss some of the best foods for pairing with the exclusive Brunello di Montalcino.
Speak to any producer about the types of food that pair well with Brunello di Montalcino and you will likely get a response about how well it goes with meat. The key here is that you want to cook the meat Tuscan style, which means not garnishing it with too many sauces and additional accoutrements.
Instead, the meat should be cooked pure so that you get every single flavour from it. In this condition, it acts as the perfect complement to Brunello di Montalcino. In particular we recommend sourcing some Chianina beef, which is the type used by the locals, so you can really get a taste for what the producers experience when they are enjoying their wine with meat. However, a gorgeous leg of lamb or roast pheasant will also go extremely well with a Brunello di Montalcino. You really do have a lot of choice, as long as you stick to a well-prepared and rich meat.
This means that it is unlikely that you will get the most out of the wine if you eat it alongside chicken or turkey, as the wine itself will overpower the food to the point where you may as well be drinking it on its own.
If you don’t feel like eating meat, or you simply want to go for the vegetarian option, you do have a number of choices available to you. While you obviously won’t want to drink the wine alongside a basic salad, as again it will completely overpower the food, it goes remarkably well with a number of mushrooms, particularly those that offer a rich flavour and texture.
If we are to make a recommendation here, we think that portabello mushrooms are the way to go. This mushroom is of French origin and has served as a companion piece to wines for decades. Cook it over polenta to give the dish a more Italian feel and you will find that the Brunello di Montalcino goes remarkably well with a dish that is suitable for vegetarians.
While we mentioned game above, we stuck mostly to the types of meat that most people are familiar with when drinking wine. However, one that you may not have considered is rabbit.
Of course, pet owners may need to get past their aversion to eating rabbit in the first place, especially if they have a cuddly bunny roaming around the house and would never be able to see the animal as food.
However, those who don’t mind enjoying a little bit of rabbit will find that its lean and gamey meat goes extremely well with Brunello di Montalcino. We recommend creating a ragu that is built over a base of pappardelle, which is a large and flat type of pasta, to get the most out of the pairing.
And now we come to the crowning jewel of Brunello di Montalcino food pairings, with a type of food that has been closely associated with the wine for decades and most be experienced alongside it to really get a taste of what is so great about Italian cuisine and the wines that complement it.
While any white truffles will make for a great pairing, ideally you will want to get your hands on some from Crete Senesi, which is a stunning area of Tuscany that is not all that far from the Montalcino region. Known for its stunning grey soil, which is an after-effect of the amount of clay in the area, it is one of the most renowned white truffle growing regions in the world, so much so that there is even a festival in the food’s honour held every year.
If you aren’t able to attend the festival, which is held annually in San Giovanni, you can still find white truffles from the region online and we wholly recommend that you order some. Combine the truffles with game or apply generous shavings of them to a pasta dish and you will have the absolute perfect pairing for Brunello di Montalcino.
We will finish with a couple of additional notes about Brunello di Montalcino, just in case you want to experiment with food pairings and have never had the opportunity to try the wine before. Brunello di Montalcino contains some rather spicy notes, which is how it overpowers a lot of foods, so you will need to compensate for that by creating dishes that are rich in flavour, which is why so many of the pairings involve rich meats and vegetables. We’d also recommend tomato-based dishes, as these bring out the airs of tobacco that are floating around the wine.