Toasting Italian for the Feast of the 7 Fishes

The feast of the seven fishes is a classic Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition, a grand meal where no meat is consumed, opting for various fish and seafood preparations. In the Catholic religion, meat is traditionally not consumed on Friday, opting for fish. As this is the day to honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus the following day, the meal is especially spectacular. And, to pair with each of the seven courses, we’re toasting Italian with a selection of sparkling, white, and red options. Cheers to a very Happy Christmas!

Taking its name from a forest that is believed to be over 6000 years old, Adami Bosco di Gica is a Prosecco Superiore DOCG from within the rolling hills of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. Fresh and aromatic, with white flowers and peaches, the 95% Glera/5% Chardonnay-based wine is lively and fresh with a frothy mousse layering orchard and stone fruit with a hint of minerality, making it the perfect way to wake up your appetite for a night of feasting. Pair with cod fritters or flash fried calamari. 

From family-owned vineyards in the high altitude vineyards of Alto Adige, where the family believes in biodynamics, knowing diversity is the key, as they say. Versalto Alois Lagader Pinot Bianco is light, fresh, and clean, showcasing the delicate nature of Pinot Bianco. With subtle flavors of golden apple and pear, clean citrus, and crushed stone, the wine is the perfect way to begin a meal, especially paired with briny oysters or crab and asparagus tarts.

Melding juicy citrus with focused, clean minerality, the Garofoli family highlights the refinement of the white Verdicchio variety from the Jesi region of Marche in its Supèra white wine. The region’s soils are clay-based, holding water from winter rains through the balmy, sunshine-filled growing season, ensuring delicate fruit receives nutrients and stays hydrated even during the long summer days. Slightly austere, with a hint of salinity, the wine layers golden citrus with marzipan, soft herbs, and elderflower. A perfect wine to pair with simply broiled halibut or cod.

The hilly, cool climate of Friuli’s Collio region in nothereast Italy is ideal for producing vibrant, refreshing white wines. Russiz Superiore Collio Sauvignon Blanc showcases this energy with a lively citrus-heavy selection. The grape must is partially fermented in barrel, and aged on the lees (yeasts) for eight months, giving texture and creaminess to the crisp, clean wine. The soils of the region mix limestone and clay, giving a crushed stone minerality to the elegant wine. Pair with an oily fish, like salmon or mackerel, allowing the acidity to cut through the richness of the fish, while it melds with the creamy texture.

From volcanic basalt soils within Veneto’s Soave region, Inama crafts well-rounded, expressive, refreshing wines from the Garganega variety. From old-vine pergola-trained grapes, Inama Carbonare Soave reveals an iron-rich, earthy complexity which enhances the fruit’s natural honeydew, mandarin, honeysuckle, and aromatic herb notes. With a medium-bodied palate, the weight of the wine will pair well with shellfish pasta with a white-wine butter sauce, or whole herb and lemon stuffed white fish.

For pairing with a shrimp or langoustine pasta with red sauce move into a wine to match the bolder tomato flavors. Sangiovese is an easy match, but my heart is always with Nebbiolo. With tannic power melding with bright, fresh acidity, the Piedmontese favorite can pair with anything from earthy truffle to hearty grilled steaks to yes, a tomato-based pasta with shellfish. Meaning “The Prince,” Michele Chiarlo “Il Principe” Langhe Nebbiolo DOC brings together fruit grown throughout Piedmont, including from the sandy soils of Roero to the blue-grey marl of Barbaresco to create an inviting wine that layers blue and black fruit, rose, tobacco, and forest-floor.

In the heel of Italy’s book, Puglia, Masseria Li Veli Orion Primitivo Salento is a Greek nod to the fortified roads near the Masseria vineyards lying on an ancient Messapian site.  The variety, Primitivo, is Italy’s Zinfandel, producing a rich, juicy, fruit-forward wine with ripe blackberry and cherry, melding with sweet spice and a touch of vanilla. Consider pairing with a meaty swordfish steak; or if you have had all the fish you can consume, opt to pair with a chocolate and berry dessert.