Wine Pairings for Penne al Cavolfiore (Cauliflower)

Wine pairings for Penne al Cavolfiore

Whites: Gavi di Gavi and Soave
Reds: Refosco, Schiopettino and Merlot

Having just spent a week in Val d’Isère, near France’s border with Italy, where every table is loaded with fondue and creamy dishes, when I read this recipe, crisp white wines and bracing reds raced to mind. Northern Italian wines, hailing from cooler climates, specifically come to my mind.

For a white, I would choose a wine loaded with mouth-watering acidity like a Gavi di Gavi from the northwestern region of Piemonte. I am particularly fond of Villa Sparina for both the wine and the attractive shape of the bottle, which is in the form of an anfora. Gavi di Gavi is a lean and mineral wine that will cleanse the palate of the generous cream of this pasta. By the way, Gavi di Gavi is made from the Cortese grape. Another good match from the other side of the northern breadth of “the boot” in the Veneto is Soave. Soave has a richer yellow color than Gavi and generally has more weight on the palate and is made from the Garganega grape. My favorite artisanal Soave producers are Inama and Gini. Both Gavi di Gavi and Soave are long-time favorites of Italians and Americans like and should be readily available in most markets.

For a red, a crunchy red with vibrant acidity and moderate tannins would balance the richness of this dish. Refosco or Schioppettino from Friuli would be ideal, but a chunky Merlot from this region would also work nicely. All these wines would have fresh red berry fruit and very little new oak, which would overwhelm the flavors of the dish. While Refosco and Schioppettino are Italian varieties through and through, Merlot has grown in Friuli for so long that it, too, is considered indigenous.  Some producers to look for are Dorigo and Felluga.

Check out our recipe for Penne al Cavolfiore.

Cin cin!

Christy Canterbury, Wine Editor

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