Gnocchi, Cheese and Other Dishes to Pair with Northern Italian Bubbles

Photo by Penny De Los Santos, Food styling by Frances Boswell

High in the mountains of Northeastern Italy, in the hills surrounding Lake Garda, you’ll find premium, traditional method sparkling wines made primarily from Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. As these wines start appearing on more shelves stateside, you might want to get to know the area a little better.

One way to do that at home is through its cuisine. Formerly part of the Austrian empire, Trento has a unique culinary style that’s part German, part Italian and completely complementary to the elegant wines of the region.

Read on to learn about a few signature dishes and why they work so well with local bottlings.

Gnocchi di Patate alla Trentina

Gnocchi di Patate alla Trentina

Little potato dumplings or canederli dumplings, made from stale bread, are served with speck, the region’s signature cured pork. Smoky meat and starchy dumplings make for a rich dish, but the freshness of the wine will cut right through.

The creamy texture of a Riserva, which undergoes at least 36 months of bottle maturation on the lees during secondary fermentation, will stand up to the deliciously salty, starchy meal. Try the Ferrari 2010 Perle Nero Riserva or Rotari 2011 Flavio Brut Riserva.

Carne Salada

Lean beef is cured in coarse salt with bay leaves, rosemary and garlic. It’s served either thin-sliced, like a carpaccio, with a drizzle of olive oil and some arugula, or in thicker grilled slabs with beans.

With some funk and earthiness in addition to its intense beefiness, this dish is delicious with the robust red fruits of a sparkling rosé. We recommend the Maso Martis 2015 Extra Brut Rosé or Oro Rosso NV Brut Rosé.

Tortel di Patate

This is a humble potato pancake. Potatoes are grated finely and mixed with egg and flour to create a batter that’s then pan-fried. The result may look a little lighter and be a little chewier than your standard latke, but it makes for a delicate snack that would be well highlighted by a lean, racy pas dosé (zero dosage) bottling like Maso Martis 2015 Dosaggio Zero Riserva Sparkling.


Trento has a range of cheeses from aged Trentigrana that evokes Parmigiano, to soft and mild Casolét, to aged Vezzena and Puzzone di Moena, which remain pretty mild and develop little holes during production, like Swiss cheese. What unites them are the Alpine-herb flavors that come through from the cows’ diet.

Pour a 100% Chardonnay sparkler, such as the Altemasi 2015 Brut, and you’ll find its apple and herb characteristics play along beautifully.

Published on January 14, 2020
Topics: Italy