The holidays are about creating memories – over a table full of incredible food and drink, of course. For a delicious season and a Buon Natale, tap into the spirit of Christmas in Italy with these festive menu twists.
1) Create a sensational antipasto platter
For a simple, stylish appetizer full of Italian flair, use seasonal vegetables, premium Italian cheese and cured meats. Beetroot, baby carrots and cherry tomatoes provide a riot of colour on a holiday table, while Prosciutto Toscano DOP and Bresaola della Valtellina IGP are beautiful options to serve with Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP and Pecorino Romano DOP. Add artichokes in drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and pan-fried polenta wedges adorned with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
2) Craft an Italian cocktail
There’s nothing quite as sophisticated as an Italian cocktail during the holidays. For an elegant aperitivo, serve Italian Red Vermouth in a classic Negroni – combined with equal parts dry gin and Campari – or on the rocks. Its rich, dark notes of liquorice and cinnamon are perfectly balanced for mellowed-out sipping throughout the evening.
Nothing says celebration like delicious Prosecco DOCG. It’s also a great base for dazzling cocktails: Try a festive Italian Bellini, crafted with Prosecco DOCG and peach purée. Perfectly balanced and totally tasty, it’s a classic for a reason. And if you’re in the mood to experiment, swap in raspberry purée and pour into a glass with bubbly Prosecco DOCG – tart, vibrant and party-ready.
As an addition to your seasonal festivities, be sure to try the Paper Plane. Combine equal parts Amaro (a trendy Italian digestivo with a herbal core), Italian orange aperitif, bourbon and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The result is a delightfully sharp, totally refreshing drink with a pleasant, lingering aftertaste. Named after the 2007 M.I.A. song, it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser this holiday season.
Italian-made wines are the pinnacle of seasonal indulgence. Aglianico del Vulture DOC is a rich and persistent wine, matching heavier pasta dishes, while Bonarda dell’Oltrepo Pavese DOC boasts spicy, lush notes that complement heavy meats. Lambrusco DOC is easy-to-drink and comes in two versions, varying in flavour from dry to lightly sweet. It’s perfect for leisurely sipping late into the night.
3) Indulge in festive mains, inspired by Italy
The holiday season is a time for traditions, comfort food and deluxe meals made with love. For an extravagant take on a go-to, try boneless beef braised in Barolo DOCG – a Piedmont favourite served during the holidays. This dish is tailor-made for lavish dinner parties: Barolo DOCG is a luxurious, full-bodied, tannin-packed red wine that flavours the beef to savoury, mouth-watering tenderness.
Pamper your guests with a dish that’s straight from the heart: Lasagne Verdi alla Bolognese. This classic labour of love features layers of pasta, white sauce and traditional ragù with beef and Pancetta. It’s topped with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP. For the ultimate in Italian authenticity, be sure to make the pasta by hand.
4) Finish with an Italian dessert
When it comes to the festive season, Italians sport a serious sweet tooth. Panettone, a sweet and buttery dome-shaped loaf, is traditionally enjoyed with dessert wine like Moscato d’Asti DOCG. Panforte is a delicious, chewy fruitcake from Siena, boasting a slightly peppery flavour infused with candied dried fruit. Torrone, a cream-coloured nougat scented with honey and orange, is typically speckled with toasted almonds. Hailing from Tuscany, Vin Santo del Chianti DOC – a softly-sweet dessert wine with hints of orange zest and Earl grey tea – is perfect for dipping biscotti.
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