Craving Copper: Old World vs. New World Ramato Wines & Pairings (#ItalianFWT)

Pinot Grigio/Gris is a grape with many faces. In the guise of Pinot Grigio, you might know it as a crisp, light (sometimes boring) Italian guzzler, most particularly associated with the northern part of the country. Or perhaps you know it as Pinot Gris, its French alias, which is richer and rounder. This version is most typically associated with Alsace, and it can be used to make anything from full-bodied dry wines to dessert wines of incredible depth in complexity. You’ll also find versions made all over the world choosing one name or the other to indicate the style to which they wish to pay homage. Friuli-Venezia Giulia, tucked up in the northeastern corner of Italy, however, is known for yet another style of Pinot Grigio called Ramato, and this one boasts beautiful copper tones you might not have ever associated with wine. It’s kind of like the grape moved to the Italian coast and got itself a fabulous tan.

Somewhere between rosé and orange wine, this style owes its gorgeous color to a particularity of the grape. Its name provides a hint – grigio means ‘gray’. Moreover, this grape has several siblings, two of which already bear the names of Blanc and Noir, all of which point to the fact that this grape is something in between. While we typically think of this as a white wine grape, it’s really not. In reality, it’s more of a greyish pink color that can get almost as dark as Pinot Noir when ripe.

Pinot Grigio-20201027-RM-114053.jpg
Image borrowed from Wikipedia, by Reinhold MöllerCC BY-SA 4.0

Ramati get their color from leaving the grape juice in contact with the skins, and it can range in color from light salmon to deep rosy copper. The wine gets its name from the color, as rame means ‘copper’ in Italian. These wines tend to be generally grouped in with orange wines, and as you’ll find with those, more structure and deeper flavors go along with the intensified color. You’re likely to find a bit of tannin, deep citrus, ripe stone fruits, tropical fruit, herbs, and spice notes mixed in. I personally often get dried flower notes as well. The intensity of the color, structure, and flavors will vary widely depending on how long the grapes were left in contact with the skins. Flavors can also range from pretty and bright to more rustic and funky depending on the producer.

The style is very traditional for Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It was made in this way here, as well as other parts of northern Italy, until Santa Margherita started exporting the light, colorless style in the 1960s that became so popular in the US, according to an article in Decanter Nonetheless, some producers in Friuli continued to Pinot Grigio in the ramato style. These have once again been gaining in popularity in recent years right along with orange wines, so much so that more and more producers beyond Italy have started emulating the style. 

In recent years, I’ve seen more and more ramato-style wines from producers in the US, particularly those that are known to enjoy experimenting. Today, we’ll take a look at a traditional Old World version from Friuli by Scarbolo, and New World skin-contact Pinot Gris from J. Brix and see how they each worked with several dishes over two dinners. 


In addition to these though, among others I’ve really enjoyed have been a ramato by Vie de Romans in Friuli, as well as ramato-style wines from Forlorn Hope and Two Shepherds here in California.


The two wines we have representing the category today do a nice job of representing the range of flavors you can expect to find in ramato wines, particularly as regards an Old World vs. New World comparissons. Both are also sustainably made. The first, from Scarbolo, is from Friuli and has less skin-contact, so it showed a more delicate touch with more savory minerality. J. Brix’s wine is representing the New World and also has more skin contact, both of which result in a richer style with riper fruit expression. I found these both to be quite pretty and clean, but for lovers of natty flavors, you can definitely find funkier versions out there. 

While I didn’t choose them for this reason, the names of both of today’s wines dedicate them to love. Perhaps Ramato is the wine of summer love . . . 

Scarbolo Il Ramato Pinot Grigio Friuli Venezia Giulia 2019

Alcohol: 13%  Price: $24 at Oakland Yard 

The Scarbolos have been winegrowers for three generations. Valter Scarbolo, the current winemaker, initially learned from his father Gino, a hardworking member of a tenant-farming family, who had a talent for winemaking and eventually purchased his own fields. Valter then went on to study viticulture and oenology to continue the family business and improve the quality. When he planted vineyards he narrowed the plant density and lowered the yields, and began selling the wine in bottles rather than in bulk. His children Lara and Mattia are also now part of the family business, with Lara dedicating herself to viticulture and oenology, and Mattia overseeing business and brand communication. 

While Friuli is known for its hilly and mountainous vineyard areas, the Scarbolos’ land is located on flatlands, “where (they) discovered underappreciated terroirs with an exceptional potential” and aim to “highlight Friuli’s Grave appellation.” 

They make four different expressions of Pinot Grigio, and they see their il ramato as a modern interpretation of the traditional style. They harvest the clusters of Pinot Grigion at their peak ripeness, destem the grapes, and then macerate them at a low temperature so as to extract the copper color and texture from the grapes while maintaining the fresh aromas and brightness.  

The name “il ramato” is a wordplay between ramato meaning “copper”, and amato which stands for “loved one”. 

Find additional winemaking details here.

Tasting Notes: On the nose there are notes of oranges, tangerines, peaches, and flowers. All of these return on the palate, along with orange skin, persimmon, and strawberries with a hint of green still showing. A soft bouquet of wildflowers and herbs with a hint of spice add complexity, along with white tea notes that evolve into a hint of tannic grip on the savory finish. There’s texture here, but also delicacy and liveliness from the wine’s freshness.

Pairings: The winery notes that a standout chef pairing for this wine is Gricia ramen, with sun noodles, white miso, peppercorns, and crispy duck prosciutto by Ryan Sims of Donna Chang’s. They also note that it’s perfect with pizza, crustaceans, pasta, and richly seasoned salads. adds that it’s good paired with richer seafood preparations, cured meats, or roast chicken, and call out Tagliolini al Prosciutto di San Daniele with Poppy Seeds as a particularly good pairing. I think this is a wine that would easily work in many situations but would largely favor savory dishes. In addition to the pairings below, I’m thinking I might need to try this with a pizza topped with prosciutto, mozzarella, garlic, and crispy sage – take your pick between white sauce or tomato sauce.

The winery also "encouraged experimentation in pairing" this wine in a selection of cocktails, which you can find here. Such a fun idea. 

J. Brix Nomine Amoris Skin-Contact Pinot Gris Santa Maria Valley 2020

Alcohol: 13.9%  Price: $29 at Minimo in Oakland’s Jack London Square  


Jody Brix Towe and Emily Towe are the couple behind J. Brix. They got their start in winemaking after tasting a bottle of Pinot Noir grown in the Santa Maria Valley. They jumped in and volunteered as harvest interns, liked working in the dirt, and decided to try making their own wines. Jody had a college and career background in horticulture that lent themselves well to working with grapes. Emily enjoys telling the stories of the wine as a writer and designer. They take an experimental approach to winemaking and make small quantities from many different varieties and vineyards and in various styles. They use neutral vessels, native-yeast fermentations, and add nothing but small amounts of sulfur dioxide as necessary. They do not fine, filter, or cold-stabilize their wines. 

Their motto in winemaking and life is “Only Love,” and the name of this wine is keeping with that motto as Nomine Amoris means “in the name of love” in Latin. The grapes for their Skin-Contact Pinot Gris are destemmed, then fermented on the skins for 13 days. The wine is pressed to neutral French Oak barrels, where it spends 3.5 months before being bottled.

Find additional winemaking details here.

Tasting Notes: Blood orange and nectarines with a touch of cherry greet you on the nose. The same notes continue on the palate, where they’re joined by guava, raspberries, and a few rose petals, especially as the wine warms up. The wine is round and textured with lush spiced fruit up front, and then becomes more savory as a bit of tannin begins to grip on the finish. 

Pairings: On the J. Brix website, they say, “We're pairing it with ham & Gruyere grilled cheese; fava bean-za'atar hummus; eggplant & red-pepper tart.” I can absolutely see this working with all of those, as well as with pork and turkey. I also think this would be a great accompaniment to cuisines that have a lot of bold flavors, such as Indian food, with moderate heat. 

Something about both of these wines makes me think of golden summer days, but the Scarbolo’s comparatively lighter style makes me think of a breezy summer morning before the sun gets too hot, while the more decadent texture and ripeness of the J. Brix make me think of late afternoon and evening as the light starts to turn golden and morphs into a brilliant sunset.

Now let’s take a look at how the wines worked at the table!


Another thing ramati have in common with rosés and orange wines is their food pairing range. The extra texture and range of flavors help them to pair easily with lots of different cuisines, and they can switch agilely between vegetable dishes, seafood, and lighter meats. For this reason, they’re a great option for Thanksgiving! 

For this post though, I thought I’d take inspiration from the cuisine of Friuli. This region is right up against the border with Slovenia, and during its history, it was fought over by the Romans, Slavs, Venetians, and Austrians, all of whom left their mark, blending together to create a culture, language, and cuisine that is an amalgam of them all, as well as uniquely its own thing. 

In addition, while this region is very small, it has really varied terrain. It has both the Carnic and Julian Alps, as well as a coastline on the Adriatic Sea, plus plains, rivers, and lagoons. As such, there is a mixture of mountain and coastal cuisines, mixed with Mediterranean, Slavic, and Germanic influences. While I couldn’t get any in time for this post, I learned that our favorite type of prosciutto, Prosciutto di San Daniele, is from this area. They also have a strong cheese tradition, with the principal of them being Montasio, a seasoned cow’s milk cheese. You’ll also find many dishes and pastries that clearly show the various influences on the region. (See articles here, here, and here for more on the cuisine.)

We had the wines over two nights and enjoyed them with different dishes to see how they worked in different contexts. As it’s summer now, I was in the mood for lighter fare, but I think both wines could have certainly handled some heavier dishes. 

Dinner One: Scallop Zoodle Gratin with Ajvar

Capesante gratinate, a simple dish of scallops baked in breadcrumbs and parsley butter, is popular all over Italy, but I learned that it originally came from Trieste. It’s a delicious dish, but it’s typically served as an appetizer, and I wanted to have something we could enjoy as a main dish for dinner. So I took it as an inspiration but then combined it with zoodles that I baked along with the scallops. It resulted in a lovely, light dinner that came together quickly.

These are simple – albeit delicious – flavors though, and I thought these wines would welcome some more intensity. I learned ajvar, a condiment made of roasted red peppers and eggplant that originated in the Balkans, is also commonly enjoyed in this area. I love this stuff and we often have it at home, so I decided to serve it up with my scallop zoodles. Purists will certainly be offended by this combination (and with the whole dish, really), but I think it worked beautifully with the wines. The scallop zoodle gratin was delicious on its own, but in that case, I’d serve it with a light, fresh white wine – a non-skin contact Pinot Grigio for example. However, the flavor intensity of the ramati loved the intensity boost from the ajvar.

While both wines worked solidly well, the Scarbolo il ramato's more delicate style (for a ramato) struck just the right balance in juggling the simple yet rich flavors of the buttery scallops, the lightness of the zoodles, and the bolder flavor of the ajvar. The J. Brix wasn’t bad, but it wanted food with a bit more intensity and weight. It worked best with bites that had a lot of ajvar, as the weight and intensity of the wine and the sauce mirrored each other nicely.

Dinner Two: Liptauer Crostini with a Chicken, Veggie, and Bean Bowl

I wanted to try the wines with a more typical for us on our second night, and nothing is more typical around here than leftovers. I always have bits and pieces of things taking up room in our fridge. One common “clean out” dish I like to make is to make a bowl with whatever protein is hanging out, beans or a grain, leftover veggies, and greens. In this case, I had shredded roasted chicken, cannellini beans that I warmed up with garlic, herbs, and olive oil, leftover veggies, and arugula. I tossed these all together for what is essentially a warm salad. You could let the chicken and beans cool down a bit, but I get impatient and I like how arugula or baby spinach wilts into the mixture. 

But why stop there? I flipped through Colman Andrews’ The Country Cooking of Italy looking for pairing inspiration for these wines and came across a recipe for Liptauer, a spiced cheese spread of Slovakian origin, that is also served in Trieste thanks to its history in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

From Colman Andrews’ The Country Cooking of Italy

I happened to have at least a version of all the ingredients on hand, so decided to make it as a way to liven up our dinner of leftover. To simplify an already simple recipe, I just tossed everything in the blender and gave it a whirl, then served it with grilled crostini on the side. This is a very flavorful spread and super easy to make, so I will definitely be returning to it again, although I might play with the balance of the spices in the future. As a bonus, the color of the cheese spread was a perfect complement to the color of the wines.

For a final flourish, I crisped up chicken skin that I’d saved after roasting the bird and now shredded it up and sprinkled it over the salad and the crostini. It kind of acts like bacon adding texture and flavor.

Both wines worked very well with the salad, each speaking to different components. The Scarbolo played up the more delicate and herbal notes, cranking up the peppery flavors in the arugula for example. The J. Brix, on the other hand,  liked the texture of the beans and the crispy chicken.

The two wines also both worked well with the Liptauer, but for me the J.Brix had the edge in this case, as it really liked the bold spices and the char on the crostini.

I so enjoyed both of these wines that I’m already mentally creating more pairings for them and craving more bottles of ramato!


wine pairing, scallops, seafood, zoodles, one pot, low carb
Dinner, seafood
Servings: 4
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Scallop Zoodle Gratin

Scallop Zoodle Gratin

Prep Time: 25 MinCooking Time: 25 MinTotal Time: 50 Min
This is lovely and light meal on its own, however, I served it here with Ajvar for bolder flavors to match our Ramato wines.


  • 24 to 32 scallops, depending on size (plan on 6 to 8 scallops per person), cleaned and dried with paper towels
  • 4 zucchini, spiralized (you can also often find zucchini pre-cut into zoodles at the grocery store)
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest divided
  • 4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature, or as needed
  • ⅓ to ½ finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Pour a generous glug of olive oil (2 to 3 tablespoons) in a large baking dish. Place the zoodles in the baking dish, then sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, pepper and toss to combine. Add more olive oil if needed. Distribute the scallops evenly on top. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the butter, parsley, garlic, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a small bowl. (If you’d like to mix some Parmesan in with the mixture, absolutely feel free.) Sprinkle the mixture over the scallops and zoodles –– adding extra butter, olive oil, or bread crumbs as desired to ensure there’s a light dusting over the whole dish.
  4. Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the scallops are cooked through (they should no longer be translucent, but still slightly soft) and the breadcrumbs are have toasted to a golden brown. If you’d like a little more browning on top, switch the oven to the broiler setting, place the baking dish on the top rack, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes until you’ve reached the color you’d like.
  5. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Accompany with ajvar for bolder flavor if desired.


I used several recipes as references in creating this version, including these from Great Italian ChefsSBS, and Food 52

Recommended Products:

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable
Created using The Recipes Generator


cheese, spread
Hungarian, Eastern European,
Servings: Makes a little over a cup
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson


Prep Time: 5 MinCooking Time: 5 MinTotal Time: 10 Min


  • 4 to 5 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mustard, seeds or ground, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • Green onions or chives, 2 white sections, plus 6 to 8 green spears, minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Toasted/grilled bread or crackers for serving


  1. Place all ingredients, except for the green onion/ chive spears, in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the minced green onions/ chives and pulse to combine.
  2. Serve with the grilled bread or crackers.


Adapted from Colman Andrews’ The Country Cooking of Italy.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable
Created using The Recipes Generator


The rest of the Italian Food, Wine, Travel blogging group is exploring Ramati and Pinot Grigio from NE Italy this month, hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, you can read her invitation post here. Check out the rest of their posts:

Additional sources used for this post and extra reading:

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, from which I might earn a commission at no cost to you.



  1. I really love your note of persimmon on the Scarbolo wine! That's a fruit that never occurred to me to even think of but now I'm going to!

    1. Thanks, although I have to admit that I think I saw it on the winery's description, but it resonated with me in much the same way.

  2. "Perhaps Ramato is the wine of summer love"... this is especially perfect for this summer seeing light at the end of the covid tunnel. Now if more people could find and experience ramato! On the food side, I've not heard of Liptauer. I'll be making it, so easy and love anchovies. As always, very informative article Nicole!

    1. Thank you so much Lynn, and I absolutely agree that more people should discover these wines, and that its a great way to celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel!

  3. Thanks for joining in. As always, I love your wine choices and food pairings. Delicious!

  4. Amazing to see such different hues of the ramato! It's no wonder the consumer is so often confused by it and would call it a "rose". BTW, love the prom picture! Great throwback!

    1. It really is cool to see the range of colors. And yeah, I think that pic is so cute!

  5. LIPTAUER!! Will suggest we do this to Sue. Sounds easy and yummy! Fun that both wines connect with "love."

    1. It was really easy -- throw everything in the blender and done!


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!