Vintage New Years Eve

What if for this year we let ourselves go to a bit of gastronomic nostalgia, choosing festive but pleasantly retro dishes for the New Year’s Eve dinner?

Here you are some ideas for a fish-based menu, full of flavors of yesteryear but always delicious, to be paired with “great occasion” wines and also – when appropriate – vintage.

Let’s start off in a bubbly way with a nice aperitif bubble for a dip in the Eighties with a prawn cocktail accompanied by the sensual pink sauce and with the timeless salmon canapés, playing at the table on the shades of color that run between plate and glass. In this case, in fact, the ideal choice could be a pink bubble: Italian and cheeky – like the fresh and mineral Francesco I Franciacorta Rosé by Uberti  enlivened by notes of red fruit and pink grapefruit flanked by spicy nuances – or French and refined, like a label with a great personality like the vintage Perrier Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé, delicate and voluptuous at the same time.

In the second case, the same bottle – perhaps in a magnum format – can also prove to be ideal for pairing with a simple but sumptuous and very tasty first course, suitable for parties, such as spaghetti with lobster with the discreet presence of tomato.

On the other hand, a white bubble – which certainly wouldn’t disfigure even with the opening prawn cocktail – could be the ideal choice to accompany another great classic of vintage seventies and eighties cuisine, never completely out of fashion: penne with salmon. blend with vodka, loved both by Ugo Tognazzi and by the regulars of disco evenings on the Romagna Riviera and by anyone who can guess the right alchemy between smoked fish, (little) cream, tomato and Russian distillate.

In fact, the tomato, omitted from many subsequent recipes to the original, is used to balance the sweetness of the dish and to act as a trait-d’union with Vodka, a meeting sealed also in the Bloody Mary cocktail. The presence of the distillate – which serves above all to blend the salmon – could create some problems for the pairing but a lively and extremely elegant bubble like the Meraviglioso by Bellavista, a fifty-fifty blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with its twelve years aging in bottle, will keep you up to speed. Meraviglioso is the result of the assembly of six historic vintages of the Franciacorta company already used for the Riserva that bears the name of the founder Vittorio Moretti (1984, 1988, 1991, 1995, 2001 and 2002).

For the second course, the ideal is to keep it simple, focusing above all on the excellent quality of the raw material: a fish in a salt crust, savory and juicy, accompanied by an impeccable and voluptuous homemade mayonnaise will make everyone happy. Just like uncorking a great white wine like Testamatta Bianco by Bibi Graetz: fresh and equally savory, despite the abundance of aromas that refer to ripe and candied fruit (from dates to orange peel, quince and apricot ) and honey, it turns out to be perfectly balanced thanks to the iodized notes and, rather than anticipating the panettone, it seems to take you back to the summer months on the sea.

If you want to surprise your guests with a little-known wine – and a grape variety – and instead of mayonnaise you want to serve a delicious Russian salad next to the fish (another great classic always very popular), you might decide to open another bottle before the passage to dessert and sweet wine.

Instead of going back to a refreshing bubble, in fact, the eclectic option may be to underline the opulence of the side dish with a glass of Vin de la Neu by Nicola Biasi: the Johanniter – a resistant variety that is well suited to cold temperatures and high altitudes, such as those of the plots in Val di Non owned by Biasi – gives life to a wine that smells of citrus fruits, tropical fruits, fresh grass and white flowers, which on the sip is surprising for its verticality and flavor but without giving up a certain enveloping also due to the aging in wooden barrel of almost a year and the long stay in the bottle.

To close the dinner in a classic way, the vintage choice could be an excellent and buttery handmade Pandoro with scents of vanilla, perhaps accompanied by a cream of zabaglione comme il faut. To be paired, a glass of the legendary Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice by Avignonesi :sweet but not cloying, with hints of dried fruit, honey and spices softened by a nice freshness and a fascinating persistence.

Waiting to leave with the countdown for the midnight toast, to accompany the cotechino with lentils and greet the new year that arrives with the most intelligent “bang”: that of a champagne cork! The choice of the bottle is yours … Santé!

– by Luciana Squadrilli 23.12.2021

Luciana Squadrilli is a professional journalist specializing in food and wine, she collaborates with Italian and foreign guides and magazines, telling the best side of Italy (and beyond). Editor of Food & Wine Italy and food editor of Lonely Planet Magazine Italy, she deals with pizza and oil with particular attention, she loves Champagne and is the author of several titles including La Buona Pizza (Giunti) and Pizza e Bolle (Edizioni Estemporanee).

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