Fiano di Avellino: Terredora Di Paolo, Campania, Italy 2012 – Pairing Rating: 9.0 out of 10.0
Seared Sesame Tuna with Sautéed Spinach and Fresh Corn
Where do you find sushi-grade grade tuna in Northern Vermont? In Newport, VT at the Newport Natural Market on Main Street, of course. OK, it was frozen, but would you take a risk on “fresh” in this part of the world? Not me. Frozen only reassured me of its freshness. And fresh it was. The cut was long and rectangular, with the sides square-cut. Kind of like a short-sided brick; perfect for searing.
A little salt and pepper, a coating of black and white sesame seeds, then sprayed with olive oil and it was ready for the cast iron griddle. I cooked this on the gas grill, heating the griddle to about 550º (laser thermometers are great for this). You will want to cook the white sesame seeds golden . . . that’s it. About 1 minute on each side (all four), and it is ready for a short rest then slicing.
We served this with fresh, local, organic spinach sautéed in coconut oil, and fresh corn and bits of jalapeno lightly sautéed in butter. The flavors were relatively delicate, so I wanted a more feminine expression of white grape to complement the dish. The white wines from Campania, Italy would fill the bill; and the more feminine style of Fiano di Avellino seemed like the right pairing.
It was perfect. The wine refreshed the palate with notes of citrus and melon urging you to take another bite and another sip. The subtle creaminess and light-to-medium body complemented the grilled tuna perfectly, and did not overwhelm the delicate flavors of the sesame, the corn or the fresh spinach. Knowing that some may wish to dip their tuna in a wasabi-infused soy sauce, I tried that as well with the wine. The pairing was still great; there is just enough residual sweetness in the Fiano to complement the aggressive spicy-salty character of the soy sauce. Like hitting the reset button for yet another forkful!
There are a number of fine producers of this wine; I chose Terredora Di Paolo ($21) from 2012 for this dinner. A slightly creamer style comes from the producer Colli di Lapio ($28). Both are excellent vinifications of the Fiano grape. If you have not yet experienced the white wines from Campania, I encourage you to do so. They are food-friendly . . . and your guests will love them!