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Discovering the roots and delicacies of Tuscan cuisine

5 wines paired with 5 Tuscan dishes

Francesca Fantoni by Francesca Fantoni

Tuscany is the land of excellent wines and a regional cuisine whose roots can be found in rural farming traditions.

Every wine, just like every dish, speaks of the history of the territory where it’s made. Here, we suggest a brief introduction to 5 DOC and DOCG wines that can be paired with 5 typical Tuscan recipes. The next time you go to a restaurant, try one of these pairings!

Kale bordatino and a Val di Cornia DOC white
Bordatino
Bordatino - Credit: Francesca Fantoni

Bordatino is a soup made with typical cornmeal from the areas around Pisa and Livorno. There are different varieties. The most famous ones are the Pisan bordatino with kale and the fish bordatino. The name of the plate comes from the fact that it was once prepared on board fishermen’s boats. It’s a simple, yet nutritious and flavourful dish. 

We suggest drinking a Val di Cornia DOC white with bordatino, from the area between Pisa and Livorno, where the main varietals are Viogner, Ansonica, Malvasia, Trebbiano and Vermentino. A Val di Cornia white with a certain softness balances the sweet and slightly bitter taste of the bordatino.

Ricotta and spinach gnudi in a butter and sage sauce and a Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG
Ricotta and spinach gnudi
Ricotta and spinach gnudi - Credit: Francesca Fantoni

The Mugello is the land of gnudi, one of the most beautiful areas in Tuscany. Gnudi are “nude” tortelli, without the dough casing. The key ingredients are ricotta, spinach, eggs and seasonings.

They are served simply with butter, sage and grated cheese. For a heartier dish, you can also use a meat sauce.

Gnudi with butter and sage pair well with a white wine with good acidity, which contrasts nicely with the oiliness of the butter and cheese. We recommend a classic Tuscan white, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG.

Pappa al pomodoro and a Carmignano DOCG
A glass of Tuscan red
A glass of Tuscan red

One of Tuscany’s more typical summer dishes, pappa al pomodoro, is made with very few ingredients: stale bread, tomato sauce, extra-virgin olive oil and basil.

When eating pappa al pomodoro, you could drink a glass of the delicious Carmignano DOCG, not too complex but with a discreet softness and a structure that balances the acidity of the tomatoes. The Carmignano is produced in the province of Prato, and in 1716, Cosimo III de’ Medici included these hills in his list of the most important wine-making areas in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Impruneta Peposo and a Chianti Rufina DOCG
Peposo, a typical Tuscan dish
Peposo, a typical Tuscan dish - Credit: Enrico Caracciolo

Peposo is popular in the area around Florence. This stew is made with beef and is cooked (historically in earthenware containers, a famous industry in Impruneta) in Chianti wine for many hours, along with a considerable amount of black pepper (where the dish gets its name from). The result is a flavourful meat that melts in the mouth, immersed in a dense, dark sauce with light amount of acidity from the wine.

Peposo can be paired with the Chianti Rufina, made in a part of the Chianti wine region close to Florence, where a particularly flavourful and mineral Sangiovese is produced.

Schiaccia briaca from Elba and an Aleatico Passito DOCG
Schiaccia briaca
Schiaccia briaca - Credit: Francesca Fantoni

This is a truly classic pairing that comes from one of the most beautiful and famous islands in the Tuscan Archipelago, the Isola d’Elba.

Schiaccia briaca is a sweet dish from the island that’s prepared like bread but without yeast. It’s mixed together with extra-virgin olive oil, flour, dried fruit and sweet wine. But which sweet wine? Elbans can’t agree on this one! In Rio Marina, they use Alchermes, which gives the dish a reddish hue. In the area around Capoliveri, they add Aleatico or Moscato Passito.

Nevertheless, a glass of one of the youngest DOCGs in Tuscany, the Aleatico Passito DOCG, pairs wonderfully with a slice of schiaccia briaca thanks to the aromas of the dried fruit (like dried plums or figs) and the light tannins in the wine, which delicately contrast the oiliness of this olive oil-based dessert.

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Food and Wine