As we all know, the very best Italian wines can be enjoyed on their own. However, there is still nothing that is quite like finding the absolutely perfect wine and food pairing. A food that complements the taste, structure, and body of your wine will help you further unlock the drink’s potential, while also giving you an even greater appreciation for the foods that you eat every day.
Of course, every wine region has its own specific food combinations, many of which have been honed over decades and offer the most comprehensive taste of what the land and people of the region have to offer.
Today, we will be looking at a very specific food that is traditionally enjoyed in the Barolo region. We are, of course, talking about the Alba truffle. This spectacular white truffle is a beautiful seasonal dish that is best enjoyed with a bottle of the king of wines, but there are plenty of things you may not know about the Alba truffle, or truffles in general. We are going to look to look at a few of those interesting facts before examining a food and wine event that will give you an even greater appreciation of the potential unlocked in combining Alba truffles with quality red wines.
So before we look at the event, here are some interesting facts about truffles that you may not know.
Truffles are Fungus
While it may be a bit of a simplification to state that a truffle is a fungus, it is also completely accurate. Truffles are in fact a form of rare mushroom that offers something a little bit different to most of the types of mushrooms that you may already be familiar with.
Traditionally, truffles grow near or on the roots of trees. What makes them such a delicacy is the fact that they are not as abundant as regular mushrooms and also they are much harder to find. Where most mushrooms sprout above the ground, making them very easy to pick, truffles actually grow approximately four inches below the surface.
In the Piedmont region, where white truffles are perhaps most popular, truffles grow in symbiosis with the hazelnut tree, which can make them a little easier to find. However, it is also not uncommon to find truffles growing on the roots of poplar, beech, or oak trees.
In the modern world, truffles are generally located by dogs that have been specifically trained for locating this major delicacy. However, this wasn’t always the case as a completely different animal was used to sniff out truffles until fairly recent times.
We are, of course, talking about pigs. It is a fairly common piece of truffle trivia to know that pigs have a very good nose for locating truffles, with the animals likely considering them to be just as much of a delicacy as humans. The use of pigs in truffle hunting has fallen by the wayside, not least because the animals are just as likely to eat the truffles themselves as they are to lead people to the mushroom’s location.
A Raw Deal
While some chefs will serve cooked Alba truffles, many consider that form of serving to be sacrilege, as cooking a white truffle affects its flavour, with many arguing that it ruins the dish altogether.
Because of this, you will usually find that white truffles are served completely raw, thus preserving everything in the mushroom. Furthermore, in most cases Alba truffles are served sparingly. It is very uncommon to eat a large truffle as a standalone dish. Instead, the truffle is usually grated or served in very limited slices over other dishes, such as pasta and vegetables. In some cases, Alba truffles are served with eggs or meat, though it takes a very talented chef to pull that particular combination off.
The key here is that to get the full taste of the Alba truffle, you want to secure the services of a chef who knows how to serve it raw and in just the right volume to ensure you appreciate the dish without allowing it to overpower the foods it complements.
The Perfect Wine Pairings
Ask anybody in the know what to pair a good Alba truffle with and you will usually receive the advice that it should go together with a wine made using the Nebbiolo grape. In particular, most will recommend drinking it with a fine Barolo, thus matching up the king of wines with a food that is most certainly fit for a king.
Those who feel a little more experimental may also choose to match the truffle up with a Barbaresco. Whatever the case may be, it is a good idea to pair the Alba truffle with a fairly dry wine, as this dryness contrasts the rich taste and texture of the truffle itself to create a truly remarkable dish.
Alba White Truffle Festival and Barolo Wine Tour
Given that the Alba Truffle and Barolo pairing has such a positive following, it should come as no surprise that the Italians have created an entire event dedicated to it. After all, we are talking about the people who really put their full passion into both winemaking and the culinary arts.
The Alba White Truffle Festival and Barolo Wine Tour takes place during the entire month of October and the first few weeks of November. Hosted in Alba (where else?), the event offers you the opportunity to see the many beautiful sights in the town while also enjoying some truly remarkable pairings of Alba truffle and Barolo.
The entire event is ideal for the wine tourist who wants to enjoy the finer things in life and there are many companies out there offering package deals so you don’t have to worry about transport. The event itself will allow you to interact with the locals and try a number of varieties of Barolo wine alongside various Alba truffle dishes, thus giving you a first-hand experience of what makes this particular combination so special to so many people.