Friuli Wines with Nutmeg Braised Goat #ItalianFWT

Italian Food Wine & Travel Goes to Friuli-Venezia Giulia
From the far northwest of Valle d’Aosta, we jump over to the far northeast corner of modern Italy. Friuli-Venezia Giulia is know for some of the best, most distinctive white wines in Italy. There is also a culture of experimentation, including revisiting ancient vinification methods. Time to explore!

Friuli_ItalianFWT_goat 20151127 8

An excellent source for the food & wine culture of the region

Friuli Region Food & Wine Reference
If you’d like to go deep into the culture, food and wine of the region, here’s your guide. Fred Plotkin does a great job of explaining traditions, foods and wines of the region. Much more than just a list of recipes, you’ll experience a virtual visit to Friuli.


Frico is fried montasio cheese with fillings. Crunchy, cheesy and full of flavor!

Friuli Apertivo
Want to try an afternoon snack directly from the region? Search out some Montasio cheese and make frico.  Really, all you need is grated cheese, extra virgin olive oil, a skillet and some filling. We tried apple frico (shown) and a savory potato-onion frico. Here’s all you need to know about Frico including the recipe. The wine in the photo above is Friulano, made from the Friulano grape (previously named Tocai Friulano). Labeling with the grape name is pretty unusual for Italy, so bask in the simplicity while you can! This one (from Kermit Lynch) was light bodied and crisp, perfect for cleansing the palate of all that crunchy, cheesy goodness.

Nutmeg braised goat on a bed of polenta

Nutmeg braised goat on a bed of polenta

Friuli Dinner Table
Here are a couple of insights into the table in Friuli-Venezia Giulia:

  • Polenta was a staple of the Cucina Povera (poor kitchen). You’ll see it as a part of many regional dishes. Make sure you make a great polenta. Note: there is no such thing according to my wife, Julie.
  • The region features both seafood from the area around Trieste as well as mountain foods from farther inland and north toward the Alps.
  • Due to trade routes passing through, spices and flavors can come from far away, though the staple ingredients will be sourced locally.
  • You’ll often see the major spices of the dish scattered outside the dish itself. The idea is to allow the diner to incorporate more of the key spice into the food if desired. What a great idea, and a new one for me.
  • White wines include Pinot Grigio, Friulano, and Ribolla Gialla.  Pinot Grigio here takes on a much more pronounced character and minerality; tasteless thin versions need not apply.  Reds include Refosco, a refreshing lighter red wine, as well as Italian renditions of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
  • A number of winegrowers in the region as well as neighboring Slovenia have embraced ancient methods for making white wines.  This involves fermenting the wine just like a red wine, with extended contact with the skins. These wines are not for everyone, but they do provide both a look to the past and a new and different flavor profile.
damijan podversic skin fermented ribolla gialla

Damijan Podversic makes a skin-fermented “white” worth exploring

Damijan Podversic Ribolla Gialla IGT 2009 ($60 at Thomas Liquors)
Eye: Dark, resiny orange color
Nose: Rich, tangerine rind, resin
Mouth: Medium body, rich medium+ tannins orange rind with a nice long finish. Skin fermented wines aren’t for everyone (Julie usually hates them), I’m a fan of well executed versions and this one is clearly in that category. With the body and tannins, the wine reads more like a red wine than a white wine. Make sure you serve the wine just a touch on the cool side, not cold.

From the winery:
Winemaking: Fermentation takes place in the skins in small conical section oak for 60-90 days. After fermentation, it is aged in barrels of 20 and 30 hl for 23 months and refined in bottle for 6 months.

Marco Felluga Collio Merlot

Marco Felluga Collio Merlot

Marco Felluga Merlot Varneri Collio DOC 2012 ($18 at Thomas Liquors)
Eye: A touch cloudy, possibly unfiltered. Opaque center to a brick red edge, barely warm toned.
Nose: Cherries, smoke, leather, & a bit of evergreen.
Mouth: Medium body, ripe but not overly so. Medium- tannins.
Nice enough, but not really impressive.  Paled in comparison to skin fermented Ribolla Gialla.

From the winery:
The wine is 100% Merlot. The etymological roots of the world “Varneri” can be traced back to the Friulano word “neri”, meaning “black”, which has always been synonymous with red wine.
Ageing- twelve months in oak casks, followed by a refining period of approximately six months in the bottle. It has a deep red colour with light garnet tones. One the nose it is fresh and fruity with scents reminiscent of red-berry jam and cherries. In the mouth, it is rich and harmonious with a long finish.

Skin-fermented white or red wine with your goat?

Skin-fermented white or red wine with your goat?

Wine Pairing with Nutmeg Braised Goat
The braised goat in this dish has a rich, very slightly gamy flavor with some additional body from the pancetta. To my palette, braised dishes often pair very well with full bodied white wines. The contrast with the red/blue fruit flavors in red wine just miss the mark of an excellent pairing.  The body of the wine is there, the fruit is a bit of a mismatch. The Damijan Podversic skin-fermented white wine has the body and texture to stand up to the rich meat flavors, and its unique citrus profile seems to be a better pairing to me.  If you go with a traditional white wine, you’ll want to pick something full bodied!

Join Our #ItalianFWT Conversation
Here is a preview of what’s to come this Saturday:

Vino Travels – Pignolo and Schioppettino and Picolit, oh my!
Culinary Adventures with Camilla – Roasted Lobster with Pesto + Ca’Bolani Sauvignon
Rockin Red Blog – Wine at the Center of Cultural Crossroads
Food Wine Click – Friuli Wines with Nutmeg Braised Goat
Enofylz Wine Blog A Taste of Friuli, Got Prignolo?
Cooking Chat –  Lightened Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Wine from Friuli
Italophilia – Castello di Miramare: Pearl of the Adriatic
Orna – A Stroll through Grado: The Sunny Isle
The Wining Hour – Friuli Pinot Grigio and Roasted Branzino
If you see this in time, come join our conversation on Saturday December 5th at 10am CST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT. We look forward to hearing from you then!
Local Sources
Nutmeg braised goat on a bed of polenta

Nutmeg braised goat on a bed of polenta

Nutmeg Braised Goat as a second course

This recipe is sized for a healthy 4 oz. portion of meat per person.


  • 2 oz. red wine vinegar
  • 1 lb. goat stew meat (substitutions include lamb, beef or even pork)
  • 2 oz. pancetta
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 carrot minced
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, plus extra to garnish
  • 2 oz. beef broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Mix the red wine vinegar with 4 oz. water and soak the goat meat for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator
  • Pre-heat oven to 325 F
  • Melt the butter and cook the pancetta in a 4 qt. dutch oven over a medium flame on the stove
  • Add the carrots, onions and nutmeg and cook until the onions are clear
  • Lower the heat to a medium-low flame, drain the goat meat then add the meat to the dutch oven, and cook for approximately 20 minutes until the goat is browned evenly on all sides.
  • Cover the dutch oven and place it in the oven for about 40 minutes.
  • Check during cooking to ensure there is still a bit of liquid in the pot. If not, add a bit of water.
  • Serve over hot polenta
  • Scatter extra nutmeg around the plate to allow extra fresh nutmeg to be incorporated by the diner as they see fit.
  • Enjoy!

Polenta for 4 as part of a second course
Note: to truly appreciate polenta, it should be cooked for at least 1 hour. Don’t believe that “done in 15 minutes” advice!


  • 1 cup medium grind cornmeal for polenta
  • 4 cups water (to start)
  • Extra warm water as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Splash of milk or cream
  • 1 Tbsp butter


  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat
  • Pour the cornmeal into the pot in a steady stream (don’t dump!) while continuously whisking the water vigorously. Continue to stir with a whisk until the polenta has taken up some of the water and starts to thicken.
  • Turn the heat down to a bare simmer, you should hear a slow bubbling coming from your pot.
  • Stir regularly with a wooden spoon. When the polenta has taken up all the water, add a bit more, then a bit more. Do this by feel. You’ll soon attain a steady state where the polenta is happily bubbling along and not drying out. Keep stirring occasionally and adding a bit of water when needed.
  • Just before serving, you can add a bit of milk and butter and stir to create a slightly creamy texture.

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19 Responses to “Friuli Wines with Nutmeg Braised Goat #ItalianFWT”
  1. Cooking Chat says:

    quite a lineup of pairings! The goat dish and pairing sound interesting but that apertivo catches my fancy a b it more.

  2. I love your willingness to explore foods. I can’t say I’ve ever made goat! It’s great you’re able to track down unique wines and cheeses like this one.

  3. You never cease to amaze! I am intrigued by the apple frico and especially the Damijan Podversic Ribolla Gialla IGT 2009. I will have to seek out this or another Friuli white wine crafted in a red style. Thank you!

  4. culinarycam says:

    This is an amazing, inspiring post, Jeff. As always, I have learned something new from your post.

  5. arneis2013 says:

    You’re killing me, Jeff! That looks so wonderful. Have to finish this book so I can return to the kitchen. Thanks for sharing this. Excellent!

  6. TheWiningHour says:

    That goat looks awesome! I still have yet to make polenta either, but your pairing has my mouth watering. Thanks for sharing. Mmmm.

  7. No one dives into a region like you Jeff! I love that about your blog. Your dish looks and sounds fantastic. I heard a factoid a few years back that goat is actually the most consumed meat in the world. I have it from time to time in the form of Jerk Goat at a fave Jamaican restaurant. I can totally see the skin fermented white pairing well with the goat. Bravo!

  8. orna2013 says:

    All absolutely delicious looking. Lovely blog Jeff. Orna

  9. Diana says:

    Very interesting…and looking delicious, as always! Does that make the Ribolla Gialla an orange wine?

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Sauvignon Rockin Red Blog – Wine at the Center of Cultural Crossroads Food Wine Click – Friuli Wines with Nutmeg Braised Goat Enofylz Wine Blog – A Taste of Friuli, Got Prignolo? Cooking Chat –  Lightened Chicken and […]

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