Shrimp and Cheese Grits with Vietti Arneis #winePW

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work (or learn from the ones that don’t); along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic.  Valerie Quintanilla of is hosting this month’s #SummerofArneis theme featuring summer recipes that pair with Arneis.

On My Plate

Have you ever gotten a feeling that a certain type of wine would pair well with a certain dish?

I don’t exactly know why, but last month when the #SummerofArneis theme was announced, Shrimp and Grits popped into my head.  A couple of weeks thereafter, I was at a local winery that has an Arneis.  I took a sip.  Shrimp and Grits popped into my head again.

I knew I had to try the pairing!

For the uninitiated, Shrimp and Grits is classic dish of the American South with Native and African-American roots.  It was elevated from a humble and simple breakfast dish to haute cuisine in the 1980’s.

I used this recipe for Shrimp and Grits.

Except, when I went to my local grocery store, the only grits they had were instant.  I’m a grits purist from way back.  And instant grits just won’t do.

What’s the difference between grits and polenta? Not much it turns out…but enough to know there’s a difference. At least in texture, if not in flavor.

I used cornmeal instead, thinking it would be a solid substitution.  Alas, my “grits” turned out more like polenta than grits.  Ha! I suppose my recipe could be referred to as Shrimp and Cheese Polenta.  Let’s consider it a bridge between the American South and Italy!

Shrimp and Cheese Grits with Vietti Arneis #winePW
I’m afraid my “grits” may be polenta! Oh well…Buon Appetito!

In My Glass

Arneis (literally “little rascal” in Piemontese) is a white Italian grape varietal originating from Piemonte, Italy. It is most commonly found in the hills of the Roero, northwest of Alba. Arneis  is referred to as “little rascal” because it has a reputation for being somewhat difficult grape variety to grow. so-called because it is regarded as a somewhat difficult varietal to grow.  It is low-yielding, and susceptible to powdery mildew.

For centuries, the white Arneis grape has been added, in small quantities, to Nebbiolo wines soften the tannins and harshness of Barolo.  Traditionally Arneis vines were planted next to Nebbiolo vines largely as a form of protection; the Arneis grapes’ stronger fragrance distracted hungry birds and insects away from the more highly prized Nebbiolo vines..

The grape was approaching extinction until 1967, when the late Alfredo Currado, a member of the well-regarded Vietti wine family, took it upon himself to invest time and effort into rediscovering and understanding the grape.

Luca’s father Alfredo practically invented dry Arneis in 1967 and was responsible for rescuing the variety from extinction; previously Arneis had been vinified sweet. Another name for the variety is White Nebbiolo, suggesting that Arneis could have been an early mutation of the red variety.” – Stephen Tanzer

Today, the grape is more commonly seen as a varietal wine.  In fact, I’ve tried several Arneis from California wineries that I’ve very much enjoyed.

But, once I learned a bit about the history of the grape,  the Vietti family, and saw that it was available at my favorite wine shop, I knew I wanted to try the  Vietti Arneis Roero.


My tasting notes follow:

Very pale green color with pretty stone fruit, white flower, citrus and a hint of hazelnut aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, crisp, persistent, moderately complex, and well structured. It shows peach, apricot, and bit of melon flavors with a complementary mineral note and wonderful length

The Pairing

Overall, this was good pairing – one I would categorize as somewhere between “peaceful co-existence” and “each one makes the other taste better”.  The Arneis was a wonderful complement to the flavors of the shrimp and vice-versa.  I think the issue was the strong cheddar cheese flavor in the grits/polenta. It overpowered the wine at times.  Had I used mild cheddar, or another milder cheese(s) or less of the sharp cheddar, I’m  sure this would have been a better pairing.

Next time!

Don’t stop here! Check more Summer Arneis Food Pairing Recipes!

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us today for a live Twitter chat on our theme #SummerofArneis on Saturday, June 13th, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m Pacific Time. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later!

Wine Pairing Weekend July: Join us next month!

In July Americans celebrate Independence Day and the French celebrate Bastille Day. July’s Wine Pairing Weekend will take place on Saturday, July 11, led by Michelle Williams of Rockin Red Blog. The group will explore food and wine pairings from the United States and France. From Michelle, Get creative and make your favorite all American food and wine meal, your favorite all French food and wine meal, one of each or a combination of both! With these two regions the sky is the limit!


  1. As a Southern girl with a mom from Georgia I have been eating her shrimp and grits for years and they will knock your socks off; however, I prefer polenta! I can taste the pairing with the wine. Sounds good. Cheers.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Michelle! Cheers!

  2. I am sorry but I had to laugh at your comment about grits. The first thing that popped in my head when i read it was from “My Cousin Vinny” when the guy he is questioning says “no self respecting southerner uses instant grits!” We had the same wine – it was very popular with our group.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      LOL Lori…forgot about that scene in My Cousin Vinny” till now…And it’s true!

  3. Beth says:

    I have struggled to find grits since I moved to Napa from Virginia, but both Safeway and Nob Hill (Raley’s) carry them. Another pairing that I’ve had with shrimp and grits is Finger Lakes Riesling with a hint of sweetness and good acidity. Cheers!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks for the comment Beth…I was surprised that Safeway only had the instant grits. They used to carry the “regular” I’m sure Raley had some, but I didn’t take the time to go to more than one store. I’ll have to try the Shrimp and Grits with a Riesling…I can totally see that working!

  4. Valeriekq says:

    I love shrimp and grits – especially when there is jalapeños involved! I do believe that this little rascal could handle it!

    Thanks for participating! It’s been so fun to see all the groups fantastic food creations! Cin Cin!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Valerie. It was great fun! And I think you’re right about the “little rascal” handling some jalapeno heat!

  5. Martin, I appreciate your honesty on the success of the pairing. I find the ones that don’t work are much more instructive than the ones that do.

  6. I really enjoyed our bottle of Viette and I would buy more except that there was only the one bottle available. I have never had shrimp and grits but your’s looks delicious. I will take your advice and use a milder cheese should I ever find another bottle of Arneis in Michigan, otherwise I will use the sharp cheddar and enjoy it with a beer.

  7. culinarycam says:

    Interesting observation on the strength of the cheese. I can see how a more mild cheese would have worked better. Thanks for sharing your polenta recipe…I mean grits! Cin cin.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks Cam! Live and learn!

  8. I like hearing about how your meal plan evolved, and the analysis of how the cheese impacted the pairing.

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks David! Cheers…and oh…I need to pick up a copy of your ebook…looks great!

  9. Diana says:

    Never had shrimp and grits, but when the recipe pops into your head twice while drinking the wine, you don’t question it! Looks good.

    1. Support says:

      Thanks Diana! I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment! You’re right about that voice in my head. I should listen to it more often!

  10. Grits are pretty rare in Adelaide (outside of the Southern USA focussed restaurants) but I love em, and polenta, and the South African version “mealie meal” or “pap”.

    Arneis is also a cracking wine variety. Some great Arneis is grown in McLaren Vale, and one of my favourites is by Fall From Grace, who also run the cutest little wine bar in the country town I live in, Willunga. It won a big gong at the Hottest 100 Wines award in 2013.

    Cheers, Louise@Willunga Wino

    1. Support says:

      Thanks for popping and commenting Louise. Didn’t know they were called mealie meal or pap in SA. I also didn’t realize there is Arneis grown in McLaren Vale, I’ll have to check one (or three;-)) out!

  11. I’ve been wanting to make polenta recently, but I never would have thought of grits. Love your creativity!

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