With the hectic holiday season behind us, January’s more relaxed pace creates perfect moments to enjoy casual homemade dinners.
Try pairing the following traditional New Year dishes with these delicious wines:
American Southern tradition calls for enjoying “Hoppin’ John” in the new year. This scrumptious delicious dish features black-eyed peas — a symbol of money and prosperity — along with rice. Sautéed red peppers and onions and bacon add flavor. Adding jalapenos peppers will intensify the spice. The “Hoppin’ John” calls for a wine with plenty of flavor and concentration balanced with terrific freshness.
Try the 2017 Elena Walch Rosé “20/26,” Rosato Vigneti Delle Dolomiti, Italy (Luxury 74772; $14.99) from Italy’s mountainous Alto Adige region near the Austrian border. The wine uses a blend of Lagrein, Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes grown in rocky soils bathed with brilliant sunny days and cool nights.
After harvest and crushing, the grape juices rest briefly on the red skins to impart the wine’s deep salmon-red color. Fruity cherry and light earthy aromas lead to full flavored red fruit, fresh acidity and subtle, soft tannins through the dry finish. Highly recommended.
Northern Italian tradition holds that buona fortuna — good luck — smiles on those eating cotechino sausage with roasted lentils in the new year. In Pittsburgh, Parma Sausage Co. (parmasausage.com) offers an authentic frozen version of cotechino at it retail store on Penn Avenue in the Strip District.
The hearty cotechino comes from finely minced pork cheeks, jowls, snout and skin flavored with nutmeg, cloves, salt and pepper. Boiling the sausage for around 90 minutes gives the meat a tender texture that pairs beautifully with the earthy lentils. The dish recalls leaner times and serves as a reminder to appreciate plenty. The lentils represent coins and are said to bring wealth in the new year.
Pair cotechino and lentils with the 2014 Tenuta Roveglia, Lugana Riserva “Vigne di Catullo,” Italy (Luxury 75855; $23.99). The wine comes from Trebbiano di Lugana grapes grown in Lombardy not far from the shores of beautiful Lake Garda. Beginning in ancient times with Roman poet Catallus, wine enthusiasts have extolled the region’s grape growing virtues.
Today at Tenuta Roveglia, the fourth generation of the Zweifel family carefully selects only fully ripened grapes for fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The delicate process delivers a wine with gorgeous pineapple and quince aromas. Ripe peach and citrus flavors mingle with subtle herbal notes. Refreshing acidity frames the fruity, yet dry finish on this delicious wine. Highly Recommended.
The Galette des Rois, or, Kings’ Cake, provides France’s favorite New Year’s dessert tradition. The cake uses two round puff pastries covering a frangipane (i.e., almond cream paste) filling. A paper crown typically tops the cake, so you can crown a king — or queen — of the day. In Pittsburgh, master French pastry chef David Piquard of Gaby et Jules Pâtisserie offers an authentic Galette des Rois baked to order. Call 412-682-1966.
Pair the cake with the 2017 Château de Montfort Vouvray “Demi-Sec,” France (8747; $14.99), a fruity white wine with a soft, slightly off-dry style. The wine uses Chenin Blanc grapes grown in clay and limestone soils near the Loire River. The cool, but generally sunny climate, ripens the grapes while retaining the vital freshness so essential for balance. Fermentation in stainless-steel tanks helps preserve delicate aromas.
In the glass, the wine’s pale straw color offers pear and peach aromas with intriguing white-flower perfumes. Fresh citrus and white peach flavors unfold in the glass with pleasantly tart acidity to balance the soft, fruity finish. Recommended.
Dave DeSimone is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.