The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Brut NV

Posted on | July 21, 2015 | Written by Stephane Menard | No Comments

vongoleOn a warm summer night, one of my favorite appetizers is called “sauté di vongole,” a dish that I discovered spending some time with my friends in Naples, Italy. This dish is as simple as it is delicious. While you can pair it with a dry and refreshing white wine, it’s even better with a bubbly one, turning your simple first course into something unique!

My favorite alternative to “vongole veraci dell’Adriatico,” the clams you find on the Amalfi Coast, are Manila clams, which despite their name you can find everywhere. I prefer them to cockles because they are more delicate and closer to the original Italian vongole. First, carefully clean all the clams—one bad clam can ruin your dish and the rest of your night, so be very careful. I find that one pound of clams to serve two people is perfect for an appetizer. Keep your clams in the fridge covered by a damp kitchen towel so they can breath and stay humid.

Then, in a large pot, make a “soffritto” with extra virgin olive oil and two cloves of garlic split in half. Gently fry the garlic at medium heat for two minutes and add the clams into the pot. Cover the pot and increase the heat. After a few minutes, the clams will start to open and release their water and create the steam. Gently stir to make sure all the clams open. Once all the clams are open, add one glass of dry white wine, stir gently and let the alcohol evaporate without the lid. After 3-4 minutes serve the vongole in a small bowl. Use a small ladle to pour the “jus” on the clams and avoid the sediments you might find on the bottom of the pot. For a final touch, sprinkle fresh-cut Italian parsley at the very end.

When I served this dish over the weekend, a Franciacorta, Italy’s answer to Champagne, was at the table with us: Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Brut NV. This vibrant pale golden bubbly offers a smooth and persistent sparkle and the classic character that you would expect of a wine fermented in the bottle. With hints of minerals and toasted bread enhanced by delicate citrus notes, this wine is a fantastic combination of clean and fresh while smooth and harmonious.

My wife and I absolutely enjoyed this under $30 half bottle of Franciacorta from Barone Pizzini; it turned a simple dinner into something truly special. I highly recommend it!

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