Wine pairings for Penne al Forno com Melanzana
Eggplant is the chicken of vegetables – that is, it doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own, but it easily takes on the flavors of its partners in a dish. However, it does add weight to a dish, so along with the pasta and cheese here, you need a wine with some heft.
It’s hard to find whites that provide the right amount of body and refreshment. Those that do also typically have a lot of glycerol, which might make the dish feel heavy. Instead of a white, a rosato is the way to go. There aren’t many made in central Italy, but the few that are work nicely here. Castello di Ama’s version is made of Sangiovese and Merlot. The Sangiovese gives the wine crisp acidity to wipe through the dish’s weight while the roundness of the Merlot melds well with that same weight. Il Poggione’s Rosato (they don’t make whites!) has generous fruitiness and concentration as it comes from southern Tuscany. However, it’s made entirely of Sangiovese, so it has lots of acidic vibrance. If you can’t find any central Tuscan rosatos, a lighter weight Chianti (not Chianti Classico so much) that can take a light chill would be nice as well.
In the red category, this eggplant-driven pasta works well with spicier and fuller reds. The south offers great options, especially those with the aromatic Gaglioppo and Nerello Capuccio. Happily, these wines tend to be blends of varieties that complement each other well. Both wines contain these key grapes, and the Statti also has Greco Nero while the Odoardi has Aglianico, Magliocco Canino and Greco Nero. Gaglioppo is floral and soft on the palate, working well with the eggplant and cheese while the Nerello Capuccio is sturdy and earthy, offering refreshment as well as a flavor bond to the past and the eggplant.
Check out our recipe for Penne al Forno com Melanzana.
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)