Christmas sweets: tips for the perfect pairing

Here we are at the last month of the year: at the gates of Christmas. December, as usual, flies by between the search for a gift, the preparations for the much-desired dinner and the days we dedicate to the tree and crèche. As lovers of wine and good food, we have often recommended – from these pages of ours – the pairings for a Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas lunch, revolving around great wines. This year we will make no exception, but there will be a slight variation: Christmas sweets. Because our beautiful Italy, as always, surprises us with the variety and quantity of traditional recipes that vary from region to region. Including, of course, Christmas sweets. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Ricciarelli di Siena and Carpineto Farnito Vinsanto del Chianti

We could not fail to start from our Tuscany and the province of Siena, which gives so many prestigious grapes to our cellars. Ricciarelli di Siena are round, elongated sweets with a dough similar to marzipan. Almonds, sugar and egg whites complete the picture, dusted with plenty of icing sugar and then baked at about 150-160 degrees. The result is a soft and mouth-watering cake, with small surface cracks forming during the baking process.

It is best paired with one of our flagship wines: Farnito Vinsanto del Chianti, made from at least 70 per cent Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia grapes (plus other white varieties) laid out to dry on classic trellises and matured partly in traditional chestnut “caratelli” (small wooden kegs) and partly in small oak barrels and casks. Bottled after being blended into a single body and then aged in underground rooms at a constant natural temperature, our Vinsanto exemplifies the very concept of elegance, capable of expressing a bouquet of unique intensity and persistence: peach, apricot, walnut husk, dried fruit, balsamic fragrances, white flowers. An almost infinite spectrum of recognition. To be sipped after a mouth-watering taste of ricciarelli or as a meditation wine at the end of a meal. For a Christmas dedicated to absolute refinement.

Sicilian Buccellato and Carpineto Spumante Dolce

Let us move southwards, landing on the island beyond the Strait of Messina. Sicily is undoubtedly one of the homelands of confectionery in the world, steeped as it is in a confectionery tradition that is the fruit of the many populations that have inhabited its territory over the centuries. Buccellato is a kind of pastry doughnut that reveals all the opulence of Sicilian confectionery, decorated with candied fruit and filled with dried figs, sultanas, almonds, orange peel and other ingredients and aromas that vary according to the area in which it is prepared.

A triumph of aromas and flavours to be paired with our Spumante Dolce: a wine that combines intensity and persistence with an innate taste-and-smell delicacy. Obtained from Muscat grapes, it is fermented at a very low temperature using yeasts that enhance the fruity and varietal characteristics of the grapes of origin. It presents itself to the eye with its fine, subtle perlage and brilliant straw yellow colour. Pleasant, balanced and never cloying on the palate; an intense bouquet of white flowers and fresh fruit, it matches – thanks to its balance – the many taste and smell stimulations of
Buccellato. Try it for the sweetest way to finish off a meal.

Mandorlato veneto and Carpineto Farnito Acquavite d’uva Sauvignon grape distillate

First the Centre, then the South, and finally we go up the boot and head North. We land in Veneto, where the Christmas confectionery tradition is well rooted: just think of Verona’s classic Pandoro. Today, however, we would like to introduce you to a dessert that is less well-known outside the regional borders: the mandorlato, which was created in the town of Cologna Veneta and then spread throughout the territory over the centuries. We are talking about a kind of nougat covered with a thin layer of honey, sugar and egg white, filled with toasted almonds.

An interplay of textures that can be achieved by working the mandorlato strictly by hand and cooking it over low heat, so as to extract all the flavours from each individual ingredient. The perfect pairing? Our Acquavite d’uva Sauvignon grape distillate is the ideal accompaniment to pastries made with almonds and almond paste. Steam-distilled in a fractionating still and aged in steel tanks that enhance its organoleptic characteristics, Carpineto Farnito Acquavite d’uva Sauvignon expresses the aromaticity and freshness of the grape variety of origin in a plastic and evident manner. Clear and crystalline in colour, with a fresh, clean bouquet and delicate hints of white flowers and fresh fruits. Its taste is soft, clean and without annoying alcoholic edges. A freshness that, as well as on the nose, also reappears on the palate. Presenting, by way of retronasal smell, pleasant tones of
honey and hints of rose. A meditation goblet that puts its signature on the most elegant of Christmases.