Wine pairings for Fusilli con Piselli e Pancetta
Rosato: La Valentina Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo
This pasta has two boldly flavored main ingredients. Peas and pancetta and both pack a lot of personality. What’s good for the pasta, is tough for the wine because their flavors are contrasting. Green peas taste of summer-green garden freshness and carry light sweetness. Pancetta is savory and salty. It’s possible to try to satisfy both by going for a cooler climate wine that might have herbal notes derived from the chilly climate and meaty notes from the variety. There’s a good chance of ending up with a wine too light in body though. So, I prefer to favor the pancetta, as it is the dominant flavor. A nicely ripe, mid-weight wine that doesn’t have a lot of obvious tannins works well. With this wine style, the peas’ sweetness doesn’t contrast too sharply with the bitterness of the tannins. Given the green peas, be sure the wine you choose has little to no new oak, which could contribute an undesirable, toasty, chocolate-ly flavor to the mix. (Old oak is inert and poses no flavor issue here.)
If you’d prefer a chilled wine, generously ripe rosatos are a great alternative to whites. They will have the weight of medium-bodied reds, and Montepulciano is a terrific rosato grape for this pasta’s style. Montepulciano made in a rosato style is called “cerasuolo,” and these wines have generous color and flavor but no tannins. Their medium to medium-plus acidity is more demure than those of leaner styles commonly found around Italy, so their texture blends well with the pancetta’s fatty generosity.
Unsurprisingly, Montepulciano again works for the red wine category. While this grape used to be made almost entirely in an easy-sipping sort of style, today are many ambitious wines available. Often they are labeled “Montepulciano Riserva,” and they frequently see a serious helping of new oak. Sometimes a little is okay, as in the Spelt recommended above, but just be sure to ask your favorite Italian wine store expert in advance.
Check out our recipe for Fusilli con Piselli e Pancetta.
Master of Wine (MW)