by Juel Mahoney
Have you noticed the Euro 2012 finals have all been wine countries? Portugal, Spain, Italy and Germany. The only upside of the final (now England is no longer in it) is that Spain and Italy are two great wine countries. And what’s the first wines people say when they hear Spain and Italy?
“Rioja v Chianti!”
Of course, there’s a lot more to these great wine countries than Rioja and Chianti. But when the bar is packed full of people more focused on the television in the corner than what is in their glass, it may be better to keep the wine choices as simple as that. Whatever can be chalked on the blackboard.
Who will win the final? The current odds for Spain are 3/1 to win. But what if it was a contest between Spain vs Italy in wine?
Here I give you some predictions:
Reds: Rioja vs Chianti
Rioja wins. Not because it’s necessarily a better wine, but most Rioja is a bold and fruity style whereas 100% Sangiovese deserves a big meal to really show it at its best. When most people just want to shovel in snacks during the game, a Chianti may be lost in the cheers. Although Italy has shown to be full of surprises throughout the series – and not all Chianti has to be strictly 100% Sangiovese. There are many Chianti with Sangiovese blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and local varieties such as Canaiolo, which soften them for easy drinking with antipasti. If you have a blended Chianti, it could be a thrilling encounter on the night with ham, Parmesan, sticks of grissini… Forza Azzurri!
Score on the night: Rioja Chianti 2-1
White: Albarino Vs Pinot Grigio
If this was a popularity contest alone, Pinot Grigio would win. Yet this is the final and Spain’s white wine from Galicia – Albarino – should not be dismissed. A notch above the average Pinot Grigio in complexity, this is an excellent wine to have with a range of finger foods. Not all Pinot Grigio are made equal, of course. Alois Lageder’s Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige can be as serious as Pirlo playing mid-field.
Score Albarino Pinot Grigio 1-2
Sparkling: Cava vs Prosecco
Both teams are now serious to win. The question is – which country has better bubbles for a celebration? It’s a tough contest.
Cava is made in the same way as Champagne, while Prosecco has softer bubbles (because it is made in the charmat method rather than aged for years). The soft bubbles are easy to sip on throughout the game, while Cava has the pressure to explode like a Champagne bottle, which has the obvious advantage when the place is full of Spaniards celebrating wildly.
At the end of the game, there is no favourite in this match: both Spain and Italy are wonderful countries with brilliant sparkling wines.
Score: Prosecco Cava 1-1
Over to you. Who do you think will win in the wine stakes – Spain or Italy?