SPECIAL SAMPLER PRICE $162.00
(a 20% discount)
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While the wine road presents many opportunities for decadent, over-the-top dining—read Kermit’s account of his threefold encounter with civet de lapin, in the Burgundy chapter of Adventures, for one extravagant example—the most memorable meals are often the simple ones. And in Italy, that boils down, if you will, to one word: pasta. Not only is pasta the ideal vehicle for pretty much any ingredient, but each region of Italy is home to its own pasta culture, with unique shapes, sauces, and fillings embedded, so to speak, in local culinary lore. How could I forget that dish of perfectly al dente penne tossed with fresh garden tomatoes and basil, enjoyed on a shaded terrace on a Tuscan summer day, accompanied by a cool glass of young Sangiovese? Or the batch of sea urchin and bottarga linguine, whipped up in the small kitchen of a boat in emerald waters off the coast of Sardinia, slurped down with one or three crisp glasses of similarly briny, perfumed Vermentino? For the home cook, pasta represents not only a delicious chance to emulate Italy’s classics, but an occasion to flex one’s own creative muscles in the kitchen. Best of all, the endless pastabilities—err, possibilities—open the door to infinite mouth-watering wine pairings. On that note, we’ve broken down the pasta kingdom into six distinct families: seafood, pesto, ragù, tomato, funghi, and the old reliable, mac’n’cheese. For every pasta, we selected one wine, keeping in mind that each category comprises countless variations. Our thirsty staff worked hard in the kitchen to test out these matchups, and with this mix of food-friendly Italian sparkling, white, and red wines, your next pasta night is certain to be a success.
2018 Spumante Col Fondo Dosaggio Zero “NumerOtre” • La Marca di San Michele $45 (mac’n’cheese) While mac’n’cheese may not hold a place in any Italian person’s heart, here in the US we know it as the ultimate comfort pasta. Whether from a box (no shame in that!), baked, breadcrumbed, or made extra creamy with a velvety béchamel, there’s no better pairing than a glass of bubbles. I like La Marca’s NumerOtre for its deliciously yeasty, full-bodied palate and tart, lively bead. An unfiltered sparkling wine like this one is the perfect pick to add dimension and levity to such a rich and basic dish. —Jane Berg
2020 Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato “Vigneto Ca da Rena” • Punta Crena $30 (pesto) The Ruffinos farm dizzying cliffside terraces above the Mediterranean, tending to indigenous vines, olive and lemon trees, and sprawling vegetable gardens. The 2020 Pigato matched with pesto gnocchi transported me to their coastal perch: fresh basil from mamma Ruffino’s garden, a generous drizzle of the family’s own olio, the scent of citrus blossom and salty sea air on the breeze... This bianco’s crisp salinity and touch of lemony tartness make it ultra versatile at table and especially satisfying with an herbaceous pesto alla genovese. —Madison Halvorson
2020 Vermentino di Sardegna “Stria” • Vigne Rada $27 (seafood) A simple linguine alle vongole always hits the spot, and the bright citrus and herbal scents of crisp Sardinian Vermentino act as a seasoning to the delicate flavors. For reliable variations, try a sauce of swordfish, taggiasca olives, and capers, or the aforementioned uni and bottarga for utter briny decadence.—Anthony Lynch
2020 Dolcetto d’Alba “La Costa” • Benevelli Piero $19 (ragù or meat sauce) Making a ragù can be daunting, primarily due to the time commitment, but the reward in the end is always worth it. A juicy, bright red, like Benevelli’s Dolcetto is the perfect complement to the rich and meaty flavors of a pork ragù. I’m a fan of adding a good bit of chili flakes either during the cooking process or when serving. Not all wines can take the heat, but a Dolcetto certainly can. —Clark Z. Terry
2017 Cerasuolo di Vittoria • Portelli $24 (tomato or red sauce) Leave the tomato seeds behind and chew on this. Try a no-cook tomato sauce by squeezing out the seeds before you submerge the mashed tomato bits into oil, vinegar, and spices to marinate. Portelli’s Cerasuolo will brighten up your classic spaghetti even more as it brings ample acidity to dance with the tomatoes you just pulverized. —PJ Blandori
2017 Barolo “V. Lazzairasco” • Guido Porro $59 (mushroom) As big and mighty as Barolo can be, it can pair as well with vegetarian fare as with a cut of beef—especially if the former is generous with cheese, butter, and meaty mushrooms. Guido Porro’s 2017 Vigna Lazzairasco is already so open and charming and perfect alongside cacioe pepe (e funghi). Of course, if you can source them, don’t hesitate to substitute shaved white truffles for the delicious sautéed maitake mushrooms I scattered on top of my spaghetti. —Tom Wolf
SPECIAL SAMPLER PRICE $162.00
(a 20% discount)
Kermit once said...
Let the brett nerds retire into protective bubbles, and whenever they thirst for wine it can be passed in to them through a sterile filter. Those of us on the outside can continue to enjoy complex, natural, living wines.
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