Traditions of gastronomy and pairings on New Year’s Eve

Traditions of gastronomy and pairings on New Year’s Eve

In ancient Rome, the New Year used to be celebrated in March, but Julius Caesar changed the date to January in 46 B.C. Inspired by the veneration of Janus, the god of gates and beginnings, whose two faces symbolize looking forward and backward.

A fusion of cultures and traditions has led to different approaches to the arrival of the New Year worldwide.

In this article, we will take a culinary journey through New Year’s Eve traditions in Italy, Spain, France, and Portugal, exploring the gastronomic delights of each country and offering pairing suggestions, allowing you to immerse yourself in a unique sensory experience to welcome the New Year with authenticity and elegance.

Traditions of gastronomy and pairings in Italy: lentils and lucky colors

Italy immerses us in a vibrant New Year’s Eve with rituals full of color and meaning. Red undoubtedly takes the spotlight, symbolizing fortune.

Traditions of gastronomy and pairings

The traditional dish cotechino, a fatty sausage, shares the table with lentils, whose consumption is rooted in the belief of attracting prosperity. Stuffed pastas, whether the delicious tortellini or casoncelli, present a feast of flavors that pair perfectly with an Italian red wine, such as Chianti Classico or Barolo.

If the choice is roasted meat, a more intense red wine, such as Brunello di Montalcino, will enhance the flavors of the dish. On the other hand, if the menu includes fish, a fresh and fruity white wine, such as Vermentino or Pinot Grigio, will be the ideal choice.

When midnight arrives and it’s time to toast, Italian sparkling wine, such as Prosecco or Franciacorta, adds a festive and elegant touch to the celebration. For those who prefer a sweet touch, sparkling Moscato can be the perfect choice.

Lastly, we cannot forget the final touch of the evening with a slice of panettone or pandoro. These Italian desserts pair well with a sweet wine, such as Vin Santo or Recioto della Valpolicella, creating a harmonious and delicious conclusion to a New Year’s Eve full of traditions and authentic flavors. 

Traditions of gastronomy and pairings in Spain: The Twelve Grapes and the Richness of Regional Flavors

In Spain, the tradition of the twelve grapes sets the pace to welcome the New Year. However, culinary diversity unfolds in each region, so we will mention some:

Traditions of gastronomy and pairings

If you opt for the authentic flavors of Madrid, the oven-roasted suckling pig stands out as a prominent culinary delight. Accompanied by traditional sides such as roasted potatoes, this hearty and flavorful dish is a popular choice for New Year’s Eve dinner. It is suggested to pair it with a fruity red wine, such as a Ribera de Duero or a Rioja, to enhance the flavors, but you can also opt for an Albariño white wine that adds acidity to the palate and contrasts with the fat of the suckling pig.

In Galicia, the New Year’s table may include the exquisite sea bream, a fish with a refined taste. To accentuate its freshness, it is recommended to pair it with an Albariño or a Godello white wine, distinctive choices from the region.

In the Basque Country, Txakoli, a refreshing and slightly sparkling beverage, shines as an ideal accompaniment to dishes like cod or snails, adding a festive touch to the celebration.

Catalonia unfolds its rich culinary tradition on the New Year’s table with cannelloni and stuffed capon. A high-quality Cava, such as a Brut Nature, complements the sophistication of these festive dishes.

In every corner of Spain, they prepare to welcome the New Year with an explosion of flavors and joy.

Traditions of gastronomy and pairings in France: réveillon and gastronomic feast

New Year’s Eve in France, known as Réveillon, is celebrated with a series of culinary delights that provide a perfect opportunity to pair with exceptional French wines.

Traditions of gastronomy

From the beginning of the evening with caviar and toasted biscuits, you can enhance the experience with an elegant French champagne, such as Brut or Extra Brut, adding sophistication and effervescence to every bite.

Moreover, oysters with their fresh and salty flavor, find an ideal partner in a dry French white wine, such as Chablis or Sancerre, enhancing the marine complexity of this delicacy.

When serving foie gras, a sweet French wine like Sauternes or Barsac will complement its richness and soften the fatty notes, providing an exquisite harmony.

Finally, to close New Year’s Eve, desserts may vary, and options may include a variety of delights such as fritters or chocolate truffles. These desserts can be paired with sweet wines or champagne.

Traditions of gastronomy and pairings in Portugal: turkey, seafood, and raisins for prosperity

Finally, our culinary journey culminates in Portugal, where New Year’s Eve is celebrated with a variety of distinctive flavors. In contrast to the Spanish custom of eating grapes to welcome the new year, the Portuguese prefer raisins. They choose one for each month of the year to toast to prosperity.

To highlight the flavors of turkey, a symbolic dish of the celebrations, we suggest pairing it with a Portuguese white wine, as an Encruzado from the Dão, that will complement the juiciness of the turkey, creating a perfect combination to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

When it comes to codfish with potatoes, another classic dish on Portuguese New Year’s Eve tables, a Portuguese white wine like Alvarinho from Minho will be the perfect choice. Its freshness and structure will enhance the delicious combination of flavors in this traditional dish.

To accompany the seafood, another essential element of the festivity, Portuguese sparkling wine remains the ideal choice. A sparkling wine from the Bairrada region, such as Baga, will bring elegance and festive bubbles, enhancing the freshness and delicacy of the seafood.

Thus, with these suggested pairings, Portuguese New Year’s Eve becomes a unique culinary experience, where local wines enhance the authentic flavors of each typical dish of the New Year.

Viavinum: exploring regions through wines and gastronomy

In summary, each country presents its own feast of flavors and culinary traditions to welcome the New Year. The world comes together in a global celebration of good wishes and exquisite pairings.

Plan your next trip with Viavinum, the wine tourism agency that immerses you in  through its wines and gastronomy.

Furthermore, explore charming wineries and savor exquisite local dishes paired with carefully selected wines, whether through our exciting group tours or completely personalized on a tailor-made trip.

Embark on this sensory journey and celebrate the vinicultural and culinary diversity of the world with us!

Wishing you a joyful celebration and a prosperous New Year!


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