Wine Pairings for Orecchiette con Rapini e Alice
Yesterday I tasted a number of southern Italian wines that would pair perfectly with this robustly flavorful dish. As these are all new wines to me, I’ve included the vintages just in case the wines taste substantially different from year to year.
Three of the wines come from a rather young winery, Case Bianche, owned by husband and wife Pasquale and Elisabetta. The couple farms their 5.5 hectares of Campanian vines organically, and all their grape varieties are native to the area.
Their two white wines have a lovely, lightly tannic quality to them…a quality that stands up nicely to the mild bitterness in this pasta. One, called Cumalè, is a pure Fiano. This wine also possesses a refreshing tanginess that compliments the broccoli rabe. The other, named Isadoro, is a blend of approximately equal parts Fiano, Malvasia and Trebbiano. The Trebbiano brings a pleasant savory quality similar to the Pecorino Romano, and the wine’s creamy mid-palate compliments the orrecchiette pasta itself.
The couple makes two charming reds. Their 100% aglianico wine shows too much power for this dish. That’s a wine for steak! However, their lovely aromatic blend called Dellemore suits this recipe well. This wine is a blend of equal parts Aglianico and Barbera with a 20% contribution from Piedirosso and Primitivo. There’s a lovely mineral streak running through this wine and it sees no oak, keeping its fruit flavors purely focused. The strong spine of acidity coupled with the moderately firm tannins lends the wine the slightest impression of bitterness, again matching up to the pasta’s style.
Another delicious southern red comes from Calabria. There are not a lot of producers in Calabria, and there are even fewer who export their wines. So, it’s nice to see Scala in the US market. The wine to pick up is the 2007 Cirò Riserva Durì. This wine is made entirely from a local grape called Gaglioppo. It’s packed with pretty, red fruit flavors – primarily bing cherry and red raspberry – and it’s pleasantly rustic tannins echo the drying sensation of the broccoli rabe. This wine is a bit heftier than the Dellemore and comes with a spot of oak. So, this is the wine to grab if you’re seeking a little more power.
I hope you enjoy a few of these wines. Compare and contrast how they work with the bitterness of the pasta, and let me know what you think.
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine