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Why you can stop worrying about food and wine pairings

Ron Smith, World of Wine columnist

FARGO — Good food and good wine go together like love and marriage. Like marriage and love, if the two don't complement each other in some way, the interest fades.

Enjoying a favorite 'comfort food' meal at the local Olive Garden the other night, I was intrigued by a Tuscany red blend named "Head to Head", and with reassurances from the waiter, ordered a bottle to have with my meal. A stellar decision.

With a quick survey in our market area of Fargo-Moorhead, it apparently is not available locally, but is available online with the average price being about $12. It would be a wine worth pursuing as it is incredibly smooth with a cherry/light spicy taste, and if you love Italian food, this is a safe bet to pair with anything from Italy.

Another wine recently tasted was the very eye-catching bottle of Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC Spumante Brut from Veneto, Italy. The fruit and flower aromas abound in the tasting, and the bubbles are what Italians would call "perlage" — meaning small, persistent and pearl-like bubbles, with a light foam that ends in a very refreshing finish. This will be an empty bottle that will hang around for decorative purposes; the opaqueness functions to protect the wine from any light source. Price around $25.

To continue appreciating wines that have a fizz to them, look for Santome Prosecco NV on the market. Priced at just $14, it's a bargain.

Made with 100 percent Glera grapes, the perlage in this wine is in a class with the Bottega Gold Prosecco. The Santome Prosecco is an extra dry that does an excellent job as a stand-alone drink, or one to accompany any Italian meal.

There are several factors that make this prosecco unique from the other prosecco wines on the market.

First, it is the only 100-percent solar-powered prosecco in the world with the 888 solar panels installed on the roof of the winery. Using sunlight to power the facility is not only environmentally sensible, it turns out to be economically beneficial with the savings being used to keep the price in the popular low market arena.

With a bright, straw yellow color background for the sparkling bubbles to dance in, this is definitely a notably fruity — apples, pear, and citrus — taste that is pleasantly acid and pairs well with just about any dish imaginable — especially of Italian heritage.

Not to give Italy all the credit for very drinkable, food friendly wine, I have to laud the Orleans Borbon Manzanilla Fina from Spain, made with 100 percent Palomino grapes. We don't normally go for sherry wines, but this one won us over, and we enjoyed it with a simple chicken potpie dinner.

It is available only online for about $12 for 375 ml bottle and is definitely worth enjoying with something more than a potpie.

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