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Piattino di Polpo e Patate with Skerk's Malvasia #ItalianFWT

Last month the Italian Food, Wine & Travel - #ItalianFWT - blogging group wrapped up our last region of Italy: Liguria. And this month, we're exploring the orange wines of Italy. Thanks to Jeff of FoodWineClick for hosting! Here's Jeff's take on orange wines from a previous event.
Follow along the journey with my fellow #ItalianFWT bloggers.  You can also chat with us live this Saturday morning at 11am EST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT.  Hope to see you there!

Orange Wine?!? Yes.
Orange wines are to white wine grapes what rosés are to reds. Orange wines are essentially white wines where the skins make contact with the wine - sometimes for days or even months. That contact produces the orange color and increases the tannins which adds complexity. Along with the complexity comes a meatiness and - to be completely candid - some unexpected funkiness. There's no other way to put it: orange wines are odd and get mixed reviews. They are definitely not for everyone.

I've had orange wine before. Well, I should say, I've had one kind of orange wine twice. And it wasn't from Italy. I've poured Donkey & Goat's 2013 Rousanne with parsnip soup and two salads for Thanksgiving; and I've poured it with another parsnip soup and salad course for my 'Tasty Murder' dinner that was all about bacon!

But, at a complete loss for where to find an orange wine from Italy  - in advance of our event that was less than two weeks away - I decided to email a friend who owns two Italian restaurants. She said, "Come by!" So, I did. 

While the restaurant was getting settled to open for lunch, I sat with her at the chef's table. We talked about orange wines. We sipped, perused the websites of different producers, talked about possible pairings, and I walked away with a bottle of 2011 Malvasia from Skerk. She thought this one, of the ones she had, would be the most approachable and food-friendly. Grazie mille, Anna!

The Other Orange Wine Offerings...
Join us this Saturday, July 2 at 10am CDT on Twitter at #ItalianFWT to chat about skin-fermented white wines from Italy. Here's what's coming from our Italian blogging group...

My Orange Wine
I ended up with a Malvasia from Skerk. Sandi Skerk's property lies less than a kilometer from the border of Slovenia. But it's still in Italy! Barely.

Malvasia is a vine from Greece that has been cultivated since ancient times. Skerk's is unfiltered and aromatic with a decidedly fruity aroma. It is not, however, really, really orange. He explains that the color is affected - not by length of maceration - but by use of sulfur, oxidation, and high temperatures; those are all things he avoids. So, his orange wine isn't bright orange. In my estimation, it's orange enough!

This orange wine was approachable enough to be food-friendly and had just the right amount of funk. As it warmed in my glass during dinner, I got more of the quintessential orange wine flavor...a little citrusy, a little earthy. But I thoroughly enjoyed the Skerk and will definitely grab another bottle - or two - next time I'm at Anna's restaurant.

On My Plate
After my conversation with Anna, I tried two different pairings before settling on what I was going to share today. I made both dishes for dinner one evening and Jake made the final decision. The one that didn't make the cut was still delicious, he just didn't think it went as well with the wine: Grilled Portabello Mushrooms with Caprese Salad and Grilled Broccolini. I have already shared that recipe - here.

But, for my #ItalianFWT pairing this month, I'm sharing a funky dish to match a funky wine. Just to be clear, I mean 'funky' in a wonderful way. All three of my boys devoured this dish and asked for more.

Because the wine was multi-faceted, I wanted a dish to match...with lots of layers and textures. I decided on a small plate with oven-crisped potatoes, tender braised octopus, fresh basil, and piquant radishes finished with a splash of tangy lemon juice and a drizzle of buttery olive oil. 


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 8 to 10 stems of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cleaned octopus, between 1 to 2 pounds
  • potatoes, washed, dried, and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
To Serve
  • radishes, thinly sliced
  • lemon, thinly sliced
  • fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper


In a large pot - I used a Dutch oven - heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the half of the garlic and onions and cook for a few minutes until softened and aromatic. Add in the remaining garlic and onions. Pour in the red wine and fish stock. Lay the bay leaves and herbs on top. Bring that to a boil.

Gently lower the octopus into the pot. Nestle the octopus into the liquid. Bring the liquid back to a boil. Cover and lower heat to a simmer.

Let the octopus braise for 3 to 4 hours. The longer you let it cook, the more tender it will be. Remove the octopus from the pot and let cool slightly. Slice the octopus into 1" chunks. Set aside and let cool. While the octopus cools, roast the potatoes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place bite-sized pieces of potato in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Turn the potatoes onto a parchment-lined piece of paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes. The potatoes will be browned and crisped on the outside, soft on the inside.

To Serve
Place roasted potatoes on your serving plate. Layer with chunks of octopus, radish slices and lemon slices. Sprinkle with fresh basil, salt, and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice over the top, then drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.


  1. Wow! You are amazing with your octopus dishes! Great recipe and pairing.

  2. I love octopus, but I'm alone at our house with that preference. Oh well! I'm glad you found a "mildly" orange wine for your octopus, I wouldn't usually think of seafood with the skin-fermented wines.

  3. glad you found your orange wine! sounds like a good pairing.

  4. Octopus looks so scary to cook ; ) I wonder why most of the orange wines are produced on the border of Italy and Slovenia.


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