Debbie Swider and Crew - June 1st, 2018


Sparkling wines are acidic, zesty and palate-cleansing. They are an excellent match for fatty and salty foods. Try it with popcorn, potato chips or a bit more sophisticated is a crusty crab and avocado bread appetizer (see recipe here). It would be great with goat cheese apps or even cream cheese and cured salmon. Anything you would traditionally use lemons on, like shellfish and fish, would go well with this wine.


Verdicchio ("The little green one") is a medium-bodied, fragrant and nutty white wine that carries a strong whiff of green apples and toasted hazelnut. It's crisp and refreshing, but silkier in the mouth.


We partnered this wine up with a Pasta and wilted greens recipe:
    •    2 cups toasted panko breadcrumbs
    •    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    •    1 1/2 pounds broccoli rabe, rinsed, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
    •    1 can garbanzo beans, drained
    •    1 pound orecchiette pasta
    •    1/4 cup olive oil
    •    2 Tbsp Lemon zest
    •    3 cloves garlic, minced
    •    1 or 2 Tbsp anchovy paste
    •    1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    •    Freshly grated Pecorino cheese, for serving

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt generously. Add broccoli rabe. Cook until leaves are wilted, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli rabe to colander; rinse under cold water.
  2. Return water to a boil, and add pasta; cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic, anchovy paste, if using, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in broccoli rabe and chickpeas. Cook until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the lemon zest.
  4. Add pasta to broccoli rabe mixture; toss to combine, adding reserved cooking water as desired. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Serve with Pecorino.


Gaglioppo is a lesser-known grape from the central part of Italy and makes both red and pink wines. This particular one is medium-bodied, citrusy and tart, with aromas and flavors of ruby grapefruit and watermelon, and maybe a faint hint of strawberry. We paired it up with an easy-to-make flatbread with rosemary, blue cheese and honey, topped with sunflower seeds and chives.


This dish is as easy and intuitive to make as it sounds. Just buy or make your own dough and top with rosemary, red grapes, blue cheese, nuts, honey and chives.
NOTE: Start with just the dough and the grapes first, cook in an oven until the grapes burst - then add the cheese and other toppings, put back in the oven for a few minutes to melt.


Dolcetto ("Little Sweet One") is a dry red wine that is lighter in body and full of delicious cranberry and spice flavors. Its sweet, juicy tartness makes it a great pairing with red sauces and tomato dishes.


A lip-smacking red wine like this is ideal with stews and tomato-based ragus. Since tomatoes are are a big part of the Italian culture, I made a Sun-Dried Tomato and Ricotta Crostini.


Nero D'Avola (The black grape from Avola) is Sicily's signature red grape. It tends to make big, bold wines that spend some time in oak barrels. Therefore it will have a bit of vanilla on the finish, complimenting tons of blackberry and cherry fruit.

Because of its jammy sweetness, Nero D'Avola is excellent with grilled foods, from burgers and steaks, to grilled veggies too.


I partnered this wine up with a dish of roasted Sweet Italian sausage, potatoes and peppers (recipe below):

  • 2 lbs Small potatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 red onion
  • bag fryer peppers
  • 1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage
  • Lemon
  • Arugula

1) Coat the first 4 ingredients in olive oil and season. Spread onto a cookie sheet, bake in a 425° oven, for 20 minutes. Remove.

2) Slice up 1 lb. Sweet Italian sausage, coat in olive oil and add back onto cookie sheet. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes.

3) Remove from oven, let cool.

4) Cover in lemon juice

5) Toss with fresh arugula