Top 5 Wines to Pair with Italian Cuisine (That Aren’t Italian Wines!)
My favorite part of Summer is the urge to do home cooking. This week I’ve been making a ton of Italian recipes, and one of my favorite sites to get recipes from is Food and Wine. Here are 5 of my favorite recipes from this week and the wines I’ve been pairing along with them!
#5: Spaghetti with Basil, Tomatoes, Olives, and Fresh Mozzarella (Paired with Time Waits for No One Monastrell, Spain 2017) - Beautifully al dente, and usually I’m not a huge fan of olives, but I went all in on this one. When pairing with olives, many people suggest Sauvignon Blanc, but I know that Spanish reds are a brilliant alternative. My mind immediately went to Monastrell - what the French call Mourvèdre - which tends to produce medium-bodied wines with blackberry, black pepper, and, yes, black olive flavors. The pleasant acid in the wine was matched by the tomato acid, and the wine turned a beautiful food experience all that much better.
#4: Italian Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach (Paired with Louis Jadot Chablis, France 2020) - Garlic is fun to pair wine with, particularly when it’s in every part of the meal! Italian sausage is wonderful because it has the beautiful meatiness of the, well, meat and all the spices and flavor that accompanies it. I choose to drink something exceptionally clean tasting when I eat garlic. Normally, I’d reach for Trebbiano, Pecorino, or Pinot Grigio, but since I have to stay away from Italian wines for this challenge, I chose Chablis and the beauty that is French Chardonnay. Clean, mineral-driven, with bright green apple notes that pair exquisitely with Italian sausage burgers. This is a pairing you *must* try!
#3: Summer Farro Salad (Paired with Herencia ‘Trabajo’ Blend de Tintas, Argentina 2020) - Farro with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and I threw some feta in there to round out the flavors - this is a beautiful summer salad! “But Zach,” you’re saying nervously “why pair it with red wine??” And you’re not wrong! If I was sticking with the Italian theme (first of all, I’d have left the feta out and opted for parmesan flakes) I’d pair this with Roero Arneis, without hesitation. Tonight, however, I paired this salad with Herencia’s red blend (a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Malbec) to spectacular results. Because of the wine’s high Pinot content (coming from higher elevation, at that), the wine’s beautiful acid pairs perfectly with all the acid from the onion, tomato, and feta.
#2: Summer Squash Pizza with Goat Cheese and Walnuts (Paired with Grey’s Peak Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand 2019) - Since I’m not about to eat any fish, I decided to pick a vegetarian dish to include on this list (and also because this one sounds amazing). Spoiler alert: it IS amazing! Goat cheese naturally pairs well with Sauvignon Blanc and I thought, why not pick a slightly unusual SB to see how that would work. Well, I’m happy I did! Still acid-driven enough to match the beautiful goat cheese buttons I seared for the pizza topping, the barrel fermentation rounded the wine out and gave it a sweetness that matched the natural sweet flavor in the walnuts and the squash. Absolutely beautiful!
#1: Bucatini Carbonara (Paired with Convivial Wines Tempranillo, Oregon 2020) - This meal was absolutely wonderful, if not the greatest thing for my lactose intolerance! Instead of complementing the meal, I chose a wine that would use its acid to cut through the fattiness of the carbonara. I could have gone with a Chardonnay otherwise, something rich and creamy, but Convivial’s Oregon Tempranillo was a beautiful accompaniment to the pasta, the cheese, and the richness of the meal. An absolute joy to drink, I plan to enjoy this for years to come, with or without food!