#winePW 4: Sicily

When David posted the theme for the September #winePW (wine pairing weekend) both Pete and I knew right away we wanted to participate. This month’s theme, Regional Food and Wine Pairings, leaves a whole world full of regions to consider. We pretty quickly narrowed our choice to Sicily.

We are planning to visit Sicily next year and have already started collecting information and started thinking about what we want to do and see. Our desire to visit the island was prompted by a tasting of wines from Sicily at our local wine shop, Fine Wines of Stockton. We fell in love with the indigenous varieties we tasted and have continued to look for Sicilian wines since then.

As luck would have it we had a Sicilian white wine in our cellar, one we had purchased when we were last at Les Marchands in Santa Barbara.

The Wine

2012 Graci Etna Bianco 2012 Graci Etna Biancomedium yellow in the glass. Interesting aromas of melon and spice combine with melon, tart pineapple and hints of cedar flavors. The finish is clean. This wine has more weight in the mouth than I expected and has an interesting combination of fruit and spice flavors. 13% ABV.

Online prices for Etna Bianco range from $21 to $27. We did not note how much we paid.

The Etna Bianco is a blend of indigenous varieties, 70% Carricante and 30% Cataratto, organically grown on the northeast slope of Mt. Etna. The sandy dark soil is volcanic in origin and high in iron. Only natural yeast is used to facilitate fermentation and the wine goes through partial (20%) malolactic fermentation. No wood is used during fermentation or aging.

The Food

So, what is Sicilian food exactly? We had no idea, so we did some research online. We found many seafood recipes, egg plant (aubergine) is commonly used, arancini, dishes with capers and lemons. Then there are the desserts; cannoli, Sicilian marzipan, pistachio gelato.

Ultimately we decided on pistachio pesto. Pesto has been on my mind, as our basil is looking very healthy. We found several pistachio recipes, some of which included basil and or mint. In the end we chose a very simple pistachio pesto recipe prepared with just onion, ground pistachios, cream, crushed red pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano.

We prepared Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce from Pinch My Salt. This recipe is simple and challenged my idea of what pesto is. Pistachios are the star of this dish.

Obviously, we did not have Sicilian pistachios so we did the next best thing and went to our Farmers’ Market and purchased locally grown pistachios. They were in the shell and salted. Shelling the pistachios was the most difficult part of the preparation.

Ground pistachios


For the first time in a long time, I followed the recipe without modification – kinda sorta. I ground the pistachios in a small food processor. A purist would require that they be ground in a mortar and pestle, but I cheated. My bad.



I chopped and sautéd half a yellow onion and added the ground pistachios, a pinch of crushed red pepper and enough olive oil to make a thick paste.

Sautéd onion and ground pistachiosPistachios, sautéd onion and olive oil








To the pistachio onion mixture I added the heavy cream, a bit of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a bit of freshly ground pepper.  After stirring all of the ingredients together, I added the cooked farfalle (bow tie pasta to me) and tossed it all together.

Cream and pistachio pestoPasta and creamy pistachio pesto









I served a generous portion into a bowl for both of us and topped each with a sprinkle of ground pistachios. We dug in.

Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce

The Pairing

The pasta was creamy and rich with a contrasting crunch from the ground pistachios. There was a bit of heat in the background from the crushed red pepper. The dish was comforting without being too heavy. I didn’t add any salt, because the pistachios were salted and the Parmigiano add saltiness.

Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce and Graci Etna Bianco
The Graci Etna Bianco had enough acid to cut through the creamy, cheesy pasta and plenty of flavor to compliment the pistachio flavors. A lovely pairing, even for a summer evening. I admit to serving myself seconds of both.

Thanks to David for inspiring this delicious meal. It is very unlikely we would have discovered this delicious recipe without your inspiration. I will absolutely make this recipe again and encourage you to give it a try as well.


Be sure to check out these great pairings from my fellow #winePW 4 bloggers!

Culinary Adventures with Camilla posted “Chuletas de Cordero + Tempranillo

Vino Travels — An Italian Wine Blog shared “Piedmont Pleasures

Grape Experiences is pairing “Avantis Estate Malagousia 2013 and Greek Shrimp

Curious Cuisiniere shared “Cheddar Cranberry Grilled Cheese with Door Peninsula Winery’s Peninsula Red

foodwineclick is sharing “Minnesota Wine at the Midwestern Table

Pull That Cork posted “winePW 4: Sicily

Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about “New Mexico: Burgers, Bubbles and Beer

Rockin Red Blog shared about “A Rustic Meal in Valpolicella

Cooking Chat blogged about “A Paso Pairing: Grilled Tuna with Halter Ranch Syrah

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “Regional Food & Wine Pairings” on Saturday, September 13, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. Questions for the chat are posted here on the #winePW site. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the October Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on “Fall Fruits and Wine Pairings” on Saturday, October 11.



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  4. Wonderful prelude to your journey to Sicily. I love Les Marchands in Santa Barbara, they have such an eclectic selection of great wines.

    I think I have another two weeks before I can plant basil again – when I do I’ll definitely be looking for some Sicilian wine and pair it with the pistachio pesto.

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  7. Great preparation for your trip to Sicily!

  8. Yum! I’ve made a pistachio pesto awhile back and this reminds me how tasty it was. This wine sounds like a good pairing for it!