In Tuscany, Red Wine Pairs with Fish #ItalianFWT

Seaside in Italy
Exploring Italy (virtually), we have been enjoying lots of meats and pasta.  It’s time to move to the coast!  In our #ItalianFWT twitter chat last month, the folks at ReDiscover Lambrusco gave me this advice: When you’re at a seaside restaurant, look at the wine at the tables.  If all the wine is white, leave!  It’s a tourist joint. Of course, we need to see for ourselves, so we’re going to try both Tuscan white and red wines with our seafood.


Classic white and red wines from Tuscany with a Tuscan seafood stew, which was our favorite?

Brodetto: Seafood Stew
In Italy, brodetto (broth) is a seafood soup/stew.  There are as many different brodetto recipes as there are cooks!  Today we’re trying one from Tuscany, courtesy of Francis Mayes, author of The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. Frances gives similar advice for this recipe, try a red wine.  Something not too heavy, but red wine goes with seafood.

Tuscany map courtesy of

Tuscany map courtesy of

If you look at a map, you’ll see that Tuscany enjoys a significant coastline on the Tyrrhenian sea, so there are plenty of spots to taste Tuscan seafood.

Think more "young vines, fresh wine" rather than Baby Brunello

Think more “young vines, fresh wine” rather than Baby Brunello

Rosso di Montalcino DOC
Rosso di Montalcino  is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes and comes from good vineyards in Montalcino, the same district as Brunello. Often, Rosso di Montalcino comes from vines too young to produce a proper Brunello, and it has shorter aging requirements, so it helps with the winery cash flow. One thing to watch out for: like this La Palazzatta, many are made in a younger, fresher, more bright red fruit style.  Some however, are more highly extracted and are promoted as “Baby Brunello” with darker fruit and deeper, bolder flavors.  For seafood, the young, fresh, bright red fruit style seems a better fit.

La Palazzatta Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2011 ($20 South Lyndale Liquors)
This is a favorite Tuscan wine of ours.  We can almost always find it for $20, and we love the fresh flavors, bright acidity and overall enjoyment.
Eye: Clear medium red, transparent.  Brick color at the edge
Nose: Fresh cherries, strawberries, a bit of herbs
Mouth: Full bodied (for an Italian wine), spicy, medium tannins but very smooth. Overall impression is fruit and spice without being too fruity.
Ripe, but not in the American sense, even though it’s 15%, it doesn’t seem hot. Not austere, very friendly.

Super crisp, great acidity, we loved this wine.

Super crisp, great acidity, we loved this wine.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG
It’s easy to find many Tuscan reds in any wine shop you walk into, Tuscan whites can be a bit harder to find.  Vernaccia di San Gimignano is one of the better known whites, and it the first white wine to gain DOCG status, the strictest in terms of controls implying a wine of higher quality. It’s known to be very high in acidity and to have a bit of bitterness in the finish.

Fontaleoni Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2012 ($15 France 44)
Julie loves crisp refreshing white wines, and this one struck her as very nice;  high praise from our house Sauvignon Blanc expert.
Eye: Clear bright, lightly golden color
Nose: Fresh, a bit floral, stone fruit & nuts
Mouth: Medium body, great acidity, a touch of bitter almond.

Which was better with seafood?

Which was better with seafood?

Wine Pairing with Brodetto
Everyone was a winner today.  Julie has a strong preference for fresh, acidic white wines.  The Vernaccia di San Gimignano was everything she enjoys in a wine.  Medium body and crisp acidity was a perfect foil for the seafood.  The umami flavors from the shrimp add a bit of depth which paired nicely with the medium body of the wine.  Julie was very happy.

I like to pick the wine according to the dish, but I must confess a general preference for red wines.  This particular Rosso di Montalcino, while being full bodied, offered bright red fruit and good acidity.  It wasn’t overly ripe, and it didn’t overpower the seafood.  I know I’ll be looking for a wine like this the next time I’m at the coast in Italy!

Brodetto Preparation
I don’t mind spending some time on making dinner on a weekend afternoon, but sometimes you just want something pretty quick.  Once you gather the ingredients, this dish is both simple and comes together very quickly.  Perfect for a quick dinner and pretty enough for guests. (click on any photo to start slide show)

Italian Food Wine & Travel: #ItalianFWT
Our Tuscan journey doesn’t stop here.  Join all of our other bloggers as they share with you their experience through the region of Tuscany.

Vino Travels – The clones and wines of sangiovese in Tuscany

Cooking Chat – Tuscan beef stew and wine pairing

Food Wine Click – In Tuscany, red wine pairs with fish

Curious Appetite – Tuscan baked goods and secret bakeries in Florence

Flavourful Tuscany – Tuscany: the cult of wines and the dining pleasure

Enofylz – A Taste of the Tuscany coast

Rockin Red Blog – Travel to Tuscany without leaving home with #ItalianFWT

Girls Gotta Drink – What is up with the Chianti Classico black rooster?

Italophilia – Castello di Poppiano

Orna O’Reilly – Five days on Elba

Join us next month on Saturday March 7th as we travel to the region of Trentino-Alto Adige in the northeastern part of Italy in the Dolomite mountains.  For additional Italian related blogs on the food, wine and travel of Italy stay tuned to #ItalianFWT on Twitter throughout the month.  Ciao Ciao!

Brodetto with Rosso di Montalcino

Recipe adapted from Francis MayesThe Tuscan Sun Cookbook
Note: be creative with your choice of seafood with lots of variety including what is fresh and even better, local.  Not much of a choice in Minnesota in February!


  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) (watching our fat content, we often reduce the amount of oil from the original recipe.  We used 1 Tbsp)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 saffron threads, soaked in 1 Tbsp warm water for an hour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 25 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 cups dry white wine, use something inexpensive, but a wine you’d be willing to drink
  • 8oz. total white fish fillets (combination of cod, tilapia, whatever is fresh), cut into medium size pieces
  • 8 oz. raw, peeled & deveined shrimp
  • 8 oz. calamari
  • 8 oz. small scallops
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped, extra for garnish
  • 4 slices of crusty bread, well toasted


  • Note: This dish comes together very quickly, so have all your side dishes ready and the table set before you start your final preparation.
  • In your largest saucepan over medium heat, saute the shallots in the olive oil until clear, about 2 minutes
  • Add the garlic, saffron & liquid, salt, pepper and cherry tomatoes.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.
  • Add the white wine and reduce the heat to a simmer, cook for 5 more minutes. Enjoy the wonderful aroma!
  • Add the fish first, cook for about 3-4 minutes
  • Add the shrimp, calamari, scallops, cook until just barely done, about another 10 minutes
  • Mix in the chopped parsley
  • Place a piece of toast in the bottom of the bowl
  • Add the seafood and broth on top of the bread, garnish with more parsley and serve.


8 Responses to “In Tuscany, Red Wine Pairs with Fish #ItalianFWT”
  1. For my trip to the Veneto last week we paired a whole meal with Recioto di valpolicella which was so shocking to me so I can see how the right red wine absolutely can go with a fish.

  2. Your wines and food look delicious. Love the advice about wine at the tables; I will heed it someday!

  3. Douglas A. Torok says:

    great suggestion for reds with seafood, certainly enjoyed the local reds last year during week in Venice, and looking forward to doing so again Easter week this year on opposite coast in Viareggio!

  4. Your bordetto looks great! I think it’s cool that we both went to the Tuscan Coast for our dishes and tried a Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG! In a twist of irony I met an Italian winemaker at Slow Wine in SF last week who insisted that if Caccuicco has tomatoes it must be paired with a red wine. I didn’t find that to be the case at all…

    • Martin, yes it was fun to have had similar thoughts, I’ll definitely give your recipe a try! We thought both wines were great with our Brodetto, a case of two winners.

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