Wine pairings for rabbit require a good bit of backbone and weight. I strongly favor a rosso for its palate-cleansing tannins, but there are some bianco bottlings – with tannin – that can work well, too. Since it is the height of summer, rather than jump into some of the heaviest hitters, I opt for their siblings.
My top pick for reds would be Rosso di Montalcino. This wine style is often referred to as “Brunello’s baby brother.” Some are denser than others, but in general, they are usually made for earlier drinking as they are made with fruit from younger vines or from barrels deemed not substantial enough for the top cuvée. One of my perennial favorites is Talenti, a suave bottling that isn’t aggressively oaked and shows the bright acidity that is one of Sangiovese’s trademarks. Lisini is another gifted producer whose wines are classic, pale in color and delicious. Both of these wines show a distinct savory and baked earth character that will compliment this Sunday Pasta beautifully.
Things get a bit tricky moving into the whites. Perhaps oddly, I would spend more cash – a good bit more – here than on the reds in order to find something of deep complexity and full body. I would also head to Friuli, where some of Italy’s most majestic wines are made. Rather than take a younger sibling from a line-up of a few producers, I would seek out the Ribolla Giallas that are simply less expensive than one of the region’s best-of-best, Gravner. These are wines deep in gold-flecked yellow color, rich in aromas sometimes reminiscent of fine Belgian ales and light in tannin. Tannin in white wine may sound just plain wrong, but trust me…it works. And, it works especially well with this rich and meaty dish. La Castellada makes a fine example as does Radikon.
I hope you enjoy exploring some of Italy’s siblings of top wines and hope, too, that you find the bottlings thoroughly rewarding.