Wine pairings for Linguine al Limone
Linguine al limone. The idea of linguine with lemon initially strikes my imaginative palate as odd. I’ve never eaten it until now, and I’ll tell you I look forward to whipping it up again.
Pasta is rich and hearty. Lemon is tingling with lively acidity. This dish meshes these stark contrasts with cream and aged cheese, and that has me thinking of sparkling wines.
Sparkling wines exhibit bright acidity. That’s what makes them great aperitifs as well as accompaniments to food. That high acidity primarily comes from grapes picked early in the harvest season, and it’s enhanced by the bubbles of the wine. Have you ever noticed sparkling water and sodas seem more refreshing than still water? That’s because the palate perceives bubbles as acidity. I’m drawing on all that mouth-watering acidity from sparkling wines to connect this dish to its lemon component.
Now, to reel in the hearty part: sparkling wines are made from all kinds of grapes, especially in Italy, which makes more sparkling wine that one can imagine. Really. They like it that much. The Franciacorta region of Italy, just north of Milan, makes some of the most elegant sparklers in the country. In fact, as Italian sparklers go, the bubbly wines of Franciacorta most closely resemble Champagne. They are made mostly from Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc with a smidgeon of Pinot Noir, the first and last varieties of which are classic Champagne grapes. How does this tie into the pasta? It does in two ways:
1. These wines are often made from a blend of years and are called non-vintage, or NV, wines. The older wines of non-vintage blends lend tastes of yeast, cream and brioche while the younger wines contribute citrus notes. That sounds a lot like this pasta dish!
2. These wines are also made, though less frequently, in a vintage style. Vintage wines are wines from a single year and are usually aged on the yeast lees of the second fermentation that produced the bubbles, giving the wines nutty, yeasty, cheesy character. Here again, we’ve got the flavors of the linguine, cream and cheese with the acidity of the limone.
So, this Sunday, dismiss the notion that sparkling wines are limited to celebrations and aperitifs and discover just how versatile they are with food, even of a very hearty nature!
Check out our recipe for Linguine al Limone.
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine