When challenged to match wines with difficult flavors, I tend to think Italian. That is unconventional, perhaps, as most people would look for wines on the sweeter side to tame spice or bitterness. But I find that Italian wines are amazingly food-friendly, and their acidity is more than a match for most foods.
For the first-course salad in chef Michael Friedman’s bitter-themed dinner (see recipes, Page E6), the safe approach would be to stick with Fiola bar manager Jeff Faile’s Negroni cocktail. But the bitter greens and vinaigrette ingredients — especially the orange and anchovy — suggest Sicily and the wines of Planeta. This leading producer crafts an excellent rosé and a lovely white called Cometa, made entirely of fiano grapes, that will conjure visions of the Mediterranean.