Prosciutto three ways and a bottle of Friulano
I’ve been holding on to an Italian bottle of white for more than a year: “Adricatico” by Bastianich, made from the Friulano grape. The vintage is 2011. It’s time to open it and pair it with the some food 🙂
This Friulano is a medium bodied white from Friuli, in the northeast of Italy. It is characterized foremost by pear aromas as well has some floral and herbaceous hints. It has good acidity and, typical of some Italian whites (and especially the Friulano), it has a slightly bitter finish.
The color is such a rich golden hue.
The classical pairing with Friulano is prosciutto. Prosciutto and Friulano work well together for a number of reasons. Prosciutto can be quite salty and demands an acidic white to lighten up the salty taste. While the taste of prosciutto might be salty, in terms of flavors, it is quite delicate. These delicate flavors require a wine that will not overpower them. Finally, the mild hint of sweetness in the prosciutto is just what’s necessary to balance the bitter finish in the Friulano.
So with the Friulano, I will be featuring prosciutto throughout the entire meal. I’m putting it on my crostini appetizers, adding it to my asparagus salad, and topping my pizza margherita with it. I will also add some sweet element and creaminess to each course to best complement the wine.
For my crostini appetizer, I first caramelized some onions and then sliced some figs (it’s not fig season so I reconstituted dried figs in hot water). Then I smeared toasted baguette slices with labneh, which is a middle eastern creamy spread – you can easily substitute mascarpone, ricotta, or even burrata or mozzarella. I then topped the bread with either caramelized onions or figs. Given the bitter finish in the wine, you need a hint of sweetness to balance it. Both the onions and the figs work wonderfully as that balancing factor. The final ingredient in the crostini is crispy prosciutto. Super simple to make – just bake some prosciutto slices in the oven for about 5 minutes. They become super crispy and the flavor gets really concentrated. Scrumptious!
The next dish in the meal is an asparagus salad. Along with artichokes, asparagus has a reputation of being one of wine’s chief enemies. Here are some key wines to avoid if asparagus on the menu: tannins (which pretty much rules out all reds) and heavy, oaked whites (like most and especially California Chardonnays). What asparagus loves is fresh and acidic wines, herbaceous and grassy flavors, and highly aromatic wines. Herbaceousness is especially an important quality in a wine when paired with asparagus. Because asparagus is such a green food, (meaning it is high in certain vegetal compounds like chlorophyll), you need a wine that echoes these flavors. Otherwise, you’ll end up with wine that tastes bitter and even metallic. Alternatively, when the wine echoes these green qualities, the flavors of the wine actually get enhanced and enriched. The first wine that comes to mind is anything made with the sauvignon blanc grape. Friulano, while less well known than the sauvignon blanc, also fits the bill perfectly! Friulano is in fact known as sauvignon vert in some regions and is related and similar to the sauvignon blanc grape. And especially with the Friulano, the slight sweet taste of asparagus is definitely a plus.
For the salad, I simply boiled some asparagus, cut it into smaller pieces, drizzled some olive oil and topped it with some scallions and prosciutto.
If you wanted to serve a different salad with a Friulano, a caprese would also be a great match, with or without the prosciutto (but obviously better with the prosciutto). The acidity of the wine works well to balance the richness of the buffalo mozzarella. At the same time, the herbal flavors of the wine go great with the basil. The tomatoes not only match the acidity in the wine but also their sweetness really improves the wine’s flavors, similar to the asparagus, caramelized onions, and the figs.
Since I already have the asparagus salad on the menu, I will go with something else that incorporates all of these flavors in a more hearty main course: pizza margherita. I made the typical pizza margherita and as soon as it came out of the oven, I topped it with prosciutto.
All of these dishes were great with the Friulano! Just the dishes alone had a nice balance between salty and sweet and between creamy and crispy textures.
There was also a perfect balance between the wine and the food. The wine’s acidity nicely balanced the salty tastes and creamy textures in all of the courses. The subtle flavors in the wine allowed the prosciutto to shine, yet without being too subtle to get lost in the meal. And finally, the sweet elements in the prosciutto and the food also nicely balanced the flavors of the Friulano. In the end, whether you’re concocting a dish or doing a food and wine pairing, it’s all a balancing act 🙂