From all the wine-food pairings in the world, the one that is often taken for granted is pasta. In my experience, non wine lovers and wine lovers alike will drink a big red with pasta with a tomato based sauce or sometimes a very crisp white with a sauce made with cream and seafood. Some of them even, switch everything around. Mamma Mia!!!. There’s no accounting for taste in this matter, but the experience can be optimized if you pay a little bit more attention to the ingredients of the pasta and you are willing to experiment with different wine styles.
Here is my take on what I like to drink with different pastas. It is based on my personal experience and I encourage you to try matches of your own.
-With baby vegetables (primavera) or herbs (verdura): Asparagus and zucchini are in season, so now is the ideal time to try less well known Italian whites such as Garganega, or a Vermentino or Arneis. Recommended producers include: Filippi Soave, Poggio Argentiera, Vietti.
-Cream sauces: For consistent sauces made with cream (example: carbonara,smoked salmon and vodka): try a Gavi from Piedmont o a Chardonnay from Friuli Venezia Giulia. For the carbonara ( if there is a lot of bacon and involve some mushrooms), you can also try a light red from the Trento
- Fresh tomato sauces with basil: Forget the reds and opt for crisp dry whites such as Pinot Grigio or Verdicchio. Also, try a good rose. Recommended producers include: Umani Ronchi, Jermann, and Planeta for the rosato
-Seafood pasta: Dishes such as linguine alle vongole or spaghetti with mussels need crisp dry and mineral whites from Southern Italy. Grapes such as falanghina and greco di tufo do quite well with a steaming plate of shellfish pasta. Crab or lobster sauces can take a fuller white such as a good quality Soave or Chardonnay. Recommended producers include: Donnafugata, Alois Lageder, Occhipinti, Jermann.
-Meat sauces : Thick meat sauces (bolognese, spaghetti with meatballs, sausage-based sauces) are a logical partner for Sicilian and Puglian reds (especially Primitivo), Sangiovese, Rosso di Montalcino and inexpensive Barberas. Zinfandel is good too
- Pesto sauces: In my experience they work really well with light veneto red such as Bardolino and Valpolicella. With red pesto I would increase the level and opt for medium to full bodied red such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Tuscan Sangiovese or Merlot. Recommended producers include: Bertani, Ricasoli, or Masciarelli.
Wines of the week:
Podere Luisa Amnesya Bianco Toscano IGT 2014 ( Private import, La QV, $20-$25, case of 12)
An amazing natural white wine made near Chianti in Tuscany. Aromas of dry apricots, crushed white flowers, blanched almonds with bitter orange peel. On the mouth, dry with a lip smacking acidity. Very saline flavors recalling oysters in brine, seaweed, and saltwater rocks. Long with a deep mineral finale. Have it with grilled jumbo shrimps.
Masseria Supreno Sangiovese Merlot 2014 ( SAQ # 13227116, $18.50)
Want Power? This super charged rosso from Puglia display aromas of kirsch cherry, cacao and roasted prunes. On the mouth, it is creamy and fleshy with ripe tannins. A spicy finale seals the deal. Molto buono!!. Have it with grilled sausages or steak.
Inama Carmenère Piu 2014. ( SAQ # 11389074, $22.20)
Carmenère is well known in Chile but in Italy, the grape could be seen as a curiosity in Italy. Più’ means ‘more’ in Italian and there’s more than just Carmenere in this typical blend from the Colli Berici, a line of gently rolling volcanic hills in Italy’s north-east. Blended with 30% merlot, this bottling from Inama display notes of cacao, roasted bell pepper, field berries in sauce. On the mouth, it is concentrated yet elegant showing off luscious notes of french oak. This wine will be lovely with a filet mignon with red pepper sauce.