Traditional Italian Christmas Desserts & Wine Pairings

Traditional Italian Christmas Desserts & Wine Pairings

Hello Winelovers,

Alice from Italian Wine Connection here.

With Christmas just around the corner (I still can't believe that!), let's talk about traditional Italian desserts: Panettone and Pandoro!

Ever wondered where they come from and what to pair them with? Read ahead... 🙂🙃🙂🙃


Panettone is pronounced /pan-a-ttoh-neh/.

No one knows for sure who invented it and when - all that is really known is that it originated in Milan around the end of XV century. 

Let's wander into the magic word of tales and take a quick look at the three main legends about Panettone...

Legend 1 - It originated at the court of the Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza, also known with the epiteth of "Ludovico il Moro". Supposedly it was invented by Ugo, one of Ludovico il Moro's falconers, who also worked in Toni's bakery and was engaged to the baker's daughter.

One night, Ugo added a lot of butter to its bread dough - butter that he bought by selling some of the falcons he had previously stolen from the Duke Ludovico il Moro. This special bread became very famous and was considered one of the best in Milan.

A few days before Christmas, Ugo decided to add the (nowday) traditional Panettone's ingredients to its special bread: eggs, candied fruit and sultana.

It was a success! Everyone in Milan had a Panettone on their Christmas table, Toni became very rich and finally let Ugo marry his daughter.

Legend 2 - For his Christmas banquet, Ludovico il Moro had one of the best and most famous Chefs baking a very special dessert - which recipe was handed down from father to son for generations.

Something went wrong and the Chef forgot about the dessert in the oven. The cake was burnt and inedible.

Luckily, Toni - one of Ludovico il Moro's servants - saved the day. 

He had put aside some of the chef's cake dough, he added flour, eggs, dried fruit and sugar and voilà! The chef found this revised dough, he gave it a bread-kind of shape and baked it.

It was a success and everyone loved it. After that, the chef had to bake Panettone for Ludovico il Moro's Christmas banquets every year.

It was named "Pan de Toni" which literally means "toni's bread", and then transformed into the modern word "Panettone".

Legend 3 - Sister Ughetta (Ugo's sister maybe? haha) was a nun of a convent in Milan.

She decided to bake a special cake for her sisters with the little ingredients available and she blessed the Christmas bread by drawing a cross with a knife.

The other sisters really enjoyed the cake and the word spread quickly around Milan - people started donating to the convent to buy that very special bread for Christmas.

Pandoro is pronounced /pan-doh-roh/.

It is said that it originated during the Ancient Rome era, and that it was mentioned in chronicles from the first century d.C., at the time of Plinio il Vecchio.

Its recipe also may be linked to its "cousin" Pane de Oro, that was served on the tables of Venetian nobles 1000 years later.

The modern recipe, soft and golden in colour, wasn't born until later when, in 1894, Domenico Melegatti deposited a patent for the cake with the characteristic 8-point star shape. 

Traditional Pandoro is served with icing sugar.



Generally, when pairing a wine to a dessert, you should choose something sweeter to counterbalance food-wine flavours.

The first thing that will probably come to your mind is... Moscato.

That's right, Moscato grapes may come from different parts of Italy and make a delicate and sweet wine, usually low in alcohol.

You may browse our "Sweet Wine" section to check out three different representations of this beautiful wine: Borgo Molino "Motivo" Moscato made with grapes from Veneto, Foss Marai "Dolce Reale" Moscato made with grapes from Puglia and, finally, Vigneti Brichet Moscato D'Asti D.O.C.G. from Piedmont.

FYI - They are on a very special price for a limited time only :) Ahhhh, we love Christmas! 😍


Not into moscato? Well, we've got you covered! 

Villa Franciacorta "Briolette" Franciacorta rosé may be just what you're after! 

Franciacorta is made in the same way as French Champagne, and "Briolette" being a Demi-Sec, it is the most sweet - least dry version of Franciacorta with 35 gr/l of natural residual sugar.

Creamless Pandoro and Panettore are literally soul mates with this fine Franciacorta wine which rest for 36 months on the lees prior being disgorged and released! Check it out here.


Still not sure about Christmas food and wine pairings? Reach out to us here or use the comment section below for advice! 🖱️

Oh oh oh!!! Salute!


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