Sauvignon: Characteristics and food pairings
The Friulans consider this variety born and bred in Friuli. Its history in the region, however, is actually relatively recent, with its presence here first documented in the 1880s. When the vineyards were destroyed by the attacks of parasites and fungi, the Friulan landowners brought in varieties suitable for quality production from other European countries. Among these was Sauvignon, which travelled from the French region of Bordeaux to Friuli.
The characteristics of Sauvignon
Harvested when fully ripe and vinified in stainless steel, Sauvignon expresses an exotic range of aromas. It can in fact show notes of grapefruit, citron, melon, and pineapple, while the savoury sensation of mineral salts gives it complexity. Pale yellow in colour, the flavour is finely aromatic, delicate, almost caressing. Otherwise, if we are talking about a somewhat uniform Sauvignon with “green” traits, it can be successfully paired with recipes in which peppers are used.
Pairing Sauvignon with food
Why do some pairings work? We tried to answer this question through some practical, easy-to-replicate examples.
A cold appetizer such as Russian salad, with cooked vegetables and mayonnaise, needs fleshy, rich, delicately aromatic wines, such as Sauvignon vinified in stainless steel. The egg softens the pungent sensation of lemon or vinegar used as ingredients in the sauce, preventing them from competing with the wine.
Anchovy fillets, alternated with lightly seared tomatoes to form several layers, and finished with a mixture of minced garlic, breadcrumbs, salt and oil, deserve the attention of a vigorous, well-rounded white wine like Sauvignon to absorb the complex, forthright flavour of the fish.
Gnocchi sprinkled with a layer of smoked ricotta and topped with melted butter make a great match with Sauvignon. It also combines beautifully with a vegetable risotto containing carrots, aubergines, tomatoes, and yellow and red peppers. The acidity of the wine contrasts the buttery creaminess of the risotto without overpowering the aroma of the dish. Another gratifying combination is with ravioli stuffed with ricotta and wild herbs.
Following the French tradition, fresh goat’s milk products are well disposed towards a white wine that has enough grit and minerality to cope with their typical pungency. Our advice is to try it with toasted organic bread scented with grated lemon peel, some Taggiasca olives and tender basil leaves, or with pork accompanied by a creamy sauce of fresh goat’s cheese.
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Maria Cristina Pugnetti
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