The great 19th-century epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin once called truffles “the very diamond of gastronomy.” In that line of thought, Italian white truffles, which grow wild from late summer through winter, are the most coveted gems of all.
Though they’re found throughout Italy, as well as other countries in the Adriatic region, those from Piedmont are considered the gold standard. These pricy fungi grow underground and share chemical compounds with some beguiling, not-always-pleasant aromas like wet dog. When you pair with wine, focus on their many more attractive attributes.
With similar woodsy, mushroom-like notes—and even aromas of white truffles—Barolo is a classic pairing. Made from Nebbiolo in the area just southwest of Alba, the informal truffle capital of Italy, its tannins help cut the richness of truffle-laced pastas and risottos.
White truffles smell invitingly of the wet soil in which they grow. An exuberantly fruity Pinot Noir could overwhelm this quality, but one of the earthiest and most elegant expressions of the grape, red Burgundy, would be an ideal match. If you’re able to splurge, opt for a Grand Cru from the Côte de Nuits.
While they don’t necessarily smell sugary sweet, white truffles have a floral and spicy sweetness reminiscent of honey. Marsanne features honeyed pear, apricot, acacia and Christmas spice flavors that will bring out the truffles’ richer side. Marsanne-based Hermitage Blanc would be an especially luxe option.
White truffle has an appealingly pungent garlic aroma, but you won’t want that sulfurous note in your wine. Choose to sip something with flavors that complement garlic, like the olive, bacon and peppery notes of Côte-Rôtie. This Northern Rhône wine represents the pinnacle of Syrah.