Every year my sister and I try to get to the Orange County Fair.  We like to see the farm animals in the middle of our planned metropolis, the weird kitchen gadgets for sale, the fortune tellers and palm readers.  It’s such a great tradition- hundreds of people gathering to celebrate summer- running around in the hot sun, sweat glistening, smiles all around.  And of course our favorite part has got to be the food.

This year my sister had a question: can you suggest Italian wines to pair well with All-American county fair cuisine?  Well, Kristin, I’m so happy you asked…

When faced with  a plate of deep-friend, nacho-style zucchini, you must ask yourself one question.  “Why?”  I believe the answer is, “because it stops tasting like zucchini when you batter and deep-fry it”.   What to drink with this particular creation?  I’d go with a nice zippy, sparking Rose, like this Turbian Rose from Provenza winery.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there’d be a little magic between that neon orange “cheese” sauce and these little Italian bubbles…

What’s better than Tortellini with pesto?  Well, a Tortellini-Pesto-Hoagie, or course!  Fair food is all about  complete indulgence, and this sandwich was no exception.  If you haven’t gone into a carbohydrate coma after your first bite, I think you might enjoy a glass of Ligurian Pigato with this little gem.  The Durin Pigato has a nice round mid-palate, full of yellow plums, while finishing cleanly with a mineral edge- perfect for cutting through all this cheesy, pesto-covered goodness.

I also love the idea of these “Australian” fried potatoes.  Is there anything really Australian about them, apart from that cute little flag?  I think with these potatoes’ perfect ration of greasy to crispy, I’d pick a high acid red, something I could chill down, but would still have the tannic structure to stand up to the overwhelming, palate-clogging, salty experience of these potatoes.  Maybe a Lambrusco even- something dry, slightly sparkling- the Fiorini Lambrusco Grasparossa “Terre al Sole” perhaps?  Delicious.

Ever had a deep-fried Ravioli?  Neither had I.

It was kind of like biting into a hot, fluffy, savory doughnut filled with ricotta and drowning in pomodoro sauce.  Not bad… and a perfect match for a lean, well-structured Barbera like the Barbera d’Alba from Podere Ruggeri Corisini.


And now for desert… to start a deep-fried Oreo or two?  Yes, please.  These cookies were battered and deep-fried (are you seeing the pattern, here?), then showered with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce.  The very essence of over-the-top American Indulgence.  As for wine, maybe a sweet, extracted glass of Recioto from the Valpolicella?  Something rich and velvety to match the hot fried-chocolate essence of these sugar bombs…

Don’t forget the most quintessential of all fair foods: the Funnel Cake.  Make by drizzling sweet batter into hot popping oil through a funnel, this crispy, oily, sugary treat is a classic.  Topped with whipped cream, maybe even some summer-fresh berries, this would be a natural match for a cold glass of sweet-sparkling Moscato d’Asti.

I like this little exercise in virtual wine pairing.  It makes me remember that wine, like food (especially from the county fair), doesn’t have to be serious all the time.  Have a little fun with it and enjoy yourself.  I’m getting thirsty already, aren’t you?