Pairings | Primitivo
Meatballs are essentially comfort food so you don’t want to drink anything too fancy with them but you do need something equally delicious - usually red in my book
Spaghetti and meatballs
This much loved Italian-American classic needs no more than a simple carafe of rosso - Sicilian I suggest. I had a similar combination at the Francis Ford Coppola winery a couple of years ago and they have exactly the right idea. A young gulpable Chianti would also hit the spot as would a Rosso di Montepulciano or Rosso Conero.
Baked meatballs with cheese
A similar type of recipe to the above just slightly richer so it might need a gutsier red - the sort you’d serve with a lasagne. Try a zinfandel, a southern Italian red like a primitivo or nero d’avola or a barbera.
Here you have spice (usually cumin and coriander), garlic, loads of herbs (coriander, mint and parsley) and yoghurt to contend with. I’d pick a medium-bodied red wine from Greece, the Lebanon or even the Languedoc (see this match the other day) but a dry rosé would also be delicious. Or even a crisp white . . .
Swedish (or other Scandi) meatballs
More savoury than the other three and generally served with a creamy gravy. Take the cue from the lingonberry jam by which they’re often accompanied. A bright fruity red like a pinot noir would work or - and you may be surprised by this - an inexpensive red Bordeaux or Bergerac.
Spaghetti puttanesca - or 'whore’s spaghetti' as it’s otherwise known - is a punchy pasta dish with strong, salty flavours but which wine should you match with it?
There are various theories about how the dish - a comparatively recent invention - got its name, the most plausible being that it was a simple storecupboard dish that could be slung together between clients’ visits.
The sauce which contains garlic, anchovies, capers, chillies and olives is quite a lot for any wine to handle. My preference, given the base is cooked tomatoes, would be for a southern Italian red - even a basic carafe wine would do.
* Sicilian and southern Italian reds such as nero d’avola, negroamara and primitivo
* Inexpensive zinfandel (you don’t want one that’s too extracted or high in alcohol with this punchy pasta sauce)
* Barbera - from Northern Italy or elsewhere - always a good wine with a rustic dish
* Inexpensive Portuguese reds from the Alentejo - ripe and supple, they make a good stand-in for an Italian red
* and if you fancy a white try a crisp southern Italian white such as Falanghina or Greco
Needless to say if you’re making the dish with another type of pasta like penne the recommendations would be the same. You match the sauce not the pasta shape.
For pairings for other pasta sauces see here.
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Aubergine - or eggplant as it’s called in the US - doesn’t have a strong flavour of its own but tends to enrich any dish in which it’s included especially when baked with tomatoes and cheese.
The best wine pairing I think is a hearty dry red with some acidity unless you’re serving it cold as in a baba ganoush or spicy aubergine salad.
* Italian reds - especially southern Italian and Sicilian reds with their dark slightly bitter hedgerow fruit seem made for aubergines. Try a Negroamaro, Copertino or Primitivo (see also Zinfandel below)
* So do Greek, Turkish and Lebanese reds with their wild briary flavours. Unsurprisingly since aubergine is such an important ingredient in that part of the world. Once that would have been pretty unhelpful advice as wines from those countries were hard to get hold of - now even Marks & Spencer includes them in its range.
* Provençal reds especially those that are made from or include Mourvèdre in the blend - like Bandol
* Zinfandel - always good with rich vegetables bakes but stick to the younger fresher styles. Killer Zins of 15% plus will overwhelm eggplant.
* For cold aubergine dishes such as baba ganoush or aubergine salads or try a crisp dry Provençal or southern French rosé or Spanish rosado. Pomegranate juice would be delicious too.
* For lighter aubergine dishes such as a tian of aubergine and aubergine parmigiano* try a medium-bodied Italian red such as a Chianti or other Sangiovese-based red.
* or, since I was rightly corrected, a veggie substitute for parmesan if you're a vegetarian.
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