Sage is delicately fragrant, hard-stemmed herb. So, lightly herbal wines make an enticing match. The butter component of this dish means the wine will need to have at least medium body; a little more is a little better. That brings my ideas for pairing wines straight to Northern Italy.
For whites, Friuli beckons for its wines with herbal notes as well as their moderate bodies that support this fairly rich dish. Sauvignon Blanc fermented in barrels and some of the local blends with Friulano should do the trick. Le Vigne di Zamó Sauvignon Blanc and Jermann Vinnae (a profound and fairly pricey blend if you’re feeling a wee bit flush) are two delicious options.
For reds, Piedmont calls. After all, Piedmont, along with Val d’Aosta, is the connecting sinew between Italy and France. It is also an area in which you will find butter-, not olive oil-based dishes. Moving past the formalities, two wines in particular come to mind. First is a fun and funky blend from Odilio Antoniotti – a fascinating mix of almost every Piedmontese black grape variety you can image – Nebbiolo, Croatina, Vespolina and Bonarda. Though fitting, it’s a bit on the lighter side for the generous buttery qualities of this dish, so here’s a second option for those desiring a more hearty wine: Giacomo Conterno’s Barbera Cascina Francia. This is a single vineyard Barbera (which means it possesses plenty of concentration and complexity) that may well be the very best out there of its style. If you can’t find either of these and you’re looking for a solid value wine, check out blends from Piedmont that include Barbera, Nebbiolo and Bonarda.
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)