Wine pairings for Linguine con Salsa Sophia
White: Falanghina and Greco di Tufo from Villa Matilde
Red: Terre Cerase Aglianico from Villa Matilde or Plutone Piedirosso from Ocone
Seeing as Sophia Loren spent a significant portion of her young life in Campania, it seems appropriate to honor the wines of that southern region with this week’s Sunday Pasta. Loaded with flavor, this pasta insists on wines that pack an equally flavorful punch.
First and foremost, all Campanian whites will stand up gracefully to this dish. Fiano, Greco, Falanghina and other local whites all pair well. I am, however, a committed fan of Villa Matilde’s Greco di Tufo and Falanghina from the Falerno del Massico DOC. Villa Matilde sits on the edge of the volcanic Massico outcrop and its wines sport spunky acidity and burst with minerality – just what you need to match this pasta. Ocone makes delicious wines from these varieties, too. Be sure to stick with the freshest vintage possible – the 2009s if you can. Ocone’s wines age well several years out and I’ve recently seen and tasted some 2007 and 2008 on the market. However, the bright flavors of this pasta would pair better with just-off-the-vine fruit.
If it’s red you desire to accompany your pasta, strictly follow one rule: avoid oak flavors. (Actually, that applies to white wines, too.) Just think of anchovies dipped in vanilla then doused with cocoa powder. To circumvent this ghastly gastronomic clash, look for unoaked and local varieties like Aglianico and Piedirosso. The brooding black fruit and feisty tannins of varietal Aglianico generally don’t work for pasta without meat but when made in a youthful and unoaked style, as in Villa Matilde’s Terre Cerase, it can work surprisingly well. The less familiar Piedirosso offers more generous fruit and would be the variety I’d prefer to open with this pasta. My go-to is Ocone’s Plutone, which never sees a stave of oak. These two varieties are often blended together, resulting in wines deeply colored and pleasantly tannic yet more fruit-driven. Just remember to avoid the new oak!
Check out this week’s recipe for Linguine con Salsa Sophia and our About post that gives a brief history of the dish.
Christy Canterbury, Wine Editor.