Pairing: Verdicchio and Fennel
I love cooking with fennel in the autumn and spring months. This fragrant ingredient is also called anise, and is full of the distinctive aroma and flavor of licorice. In autumn, I like to roast fennel and pair it with sauteed-yet-still-crisp haricots verts. In springtime, I saute fennel with pork loin chops, shallots, garlic and white wine. When you include it in recipes, remember to use only the white "bulb" part, not the stalks, as well as the fronds (good for garnishing.)
One wine that pairs really well with fennel-based dishes is Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. Made in the Marche region of Italy from Verdicchio grapes, it's crisp and light, with lemon and fennel notes, a bit of "slatiness," and a slightly bitter finish. It goes especially well with the pork chop dish I like to make, and would pair equally well with a salad topped with thinly sliced raw fennel and a lemon vinaigrette, or with any light delicate white fish (I'm thinking cod or skate topped with capers and a lemon sauce...)
You'll recognize Verdicchio on the wine store shelf by its green amphora bottle. Look for producers Santa Barbara, Colonnara and Fazi Battaglia--all available at Total Wine stores.