Saturday, August 5, 2023

Ligurian Vermentino and Pesto

This month I’m hosting our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group as we travel to the regions of Liguria and Emilia Romagna in northern Italy.  I’ve been fortunate to visit both regions, but unfortunately only Liguria in passing along the highway en route to Monte Carlo.  Although, Liguria has captured the attention of my two little boys since they’re big fans of Disney’s movie, Luca, based in Liguria, so maybe a visit to Liguria is in my future.  Even though Emilia Romagna and Liguria are neighbors, they have a number of differences when it comes to their geography, wines and cuisine.  Today we’ll take a look at Liguria, also known as the Italian Riviera, and its greatest white, Vermentino, along with one of its local specialties, pesto. 

Vermentino grape of Liguria 

The Ligurian landscape is a narrow, crescent shaped, rugged stretch of land in northwestern Italy situated between the Ligurian Sea and the Maritime Alps to the north.  It connects with France to the west and Tuscany to the east with Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia Romagna bordering to the north.  

It’s a region primarily dominated by white wines with Vermentino leading the way. Two of the most common white grapes of Liguria are Vermentino and Pigato. Although most folks think Vermentino is called Pigato in Liguria, they are actually two clones of the same plant so they do have different characteristics from one another.  

Vermentino is a grape that can be found in several regions throughout Italy from Liguria to Tuscany and most notably, SardiniaIt’s a lightly colored, thin-skinned grape that produces wines that are mostly light-bodied.  They are refreshing wines with bright acidity and an aromatic floral nose with white flowers.  On the palate these wines display citrus and herbal notes and they tend to have a unique almond finish.  The Vermentino of Liguria also has great minerality or saltiness in the wine due to its proximity to the sea. 

There are two DOCs in Liguria where you can find the Vermentino grape, the Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC on the western side and the Colli di Luni DOC on the eastern side. 

Liguria DOC wine ergions
Copyright of Federdoc
 Pesto of Liguria 

Liguria is a region that is abundant in vegetables, herbs and fruits grown along its terraced hillsides.  Due to its proximity to the sea and the Gulf of Genoa, seafood-based dishes are very common.  One of Liguria’s claims to fame and the prime herb of the region is their basil, the main ingredient used in producing pesto. Along with basil, the primary components of pesto from the region include basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and cheese (pecorino or parmigiano).  Pesto originated from the capital and port town of Genoa where it is also known as pesto genovese. 

Pesto stems from the Italian word, pestare, which means to pound.   The best way to mix these components is with a mortar and pestle to keep the components freshI produce pesto regularly throughout the summer with basil from my garden and am guilty of using my food processor to be more efficient when mixing these ingredientsThis method is fine, but make sure to pulse the ingredients and not blend for too long 

In Liguria pesto can be utilized several ways with the local pasta, trenette, or with lasagne or even minestroneThis week I utilized my garden to the fullest. I sliced and sauteed some zucchini with cherry tomatoes. Once it was done cooking, I mixed in some homemade pesto, topped it with shrimp and grated some additional pecorino (which I love)A beautiful summer evening dishAlthough I didn’t specifically have a Ligurian Vermentino on hand to pair with this dish I know it would make a lovely pairing from previous Vermentino I have tasted.   

Ligurian pesto summer dish paired with Vermentino

What’s your favorite summer dish and wine pairing? 

Check out some other Vermentino I have written about in the past  

My fellow Italian wine and food lovers will be sharing some additional delights from Liguria or Emilia Romagna this weekend so be sure to check them out.


  1. Sounds like the perfect summer meal. Thanks for hosting Jennifer.

  2. That dish looks amazing! Thank you for leading us on this exploration of Emilia-Romagna and Liguria. These are two regions that seem to get all too little wine love! I look forward to reading the other posts (and your posts later this month) to increase my knowledge of these regions!

  3. I would love to explore Ligurian wines more, especially after reading your notes on Vermentino. Thank you for hosting this month.

  4. I went with pesto, too, but with a different grape.