Wine pairings for Rigatoni con le Polpettine
Rigatoni con le Polpettine is a hearty dish that only red wines can match. This is a pasta that warms your insides on a chilly Sunday night and so will the wines that pair well with it. In deference to Ed’s great-grandmother, who brought this dish with her from southern Italy, this week’s pairings are all from the south of “the boot.”
While this week’s wine suggestions come from Italy’s warmest regions, the wines are very often medium bodied with moderate plus, not high, alcohol. This is because these wines are often made in microclimates that are cooler than the rest of the region. The first wine below is a perfect example.
All three wines I recommend this week are from single varieties that are indigenous to southern Italy. First is Gaglioppo from the producer Statti in Calabria. Gaglioppo’s origins are a bit of a mystery but its aromas are readily identifiable. The wines are richly floral when made by better producers. Statti’s version tends to display more red fruits than black fruits and is more lithe than many of its varietal counterparts. If you’re in the mood for a medium-weight wine, reach for this one.
Second is a Nero di Troia, a grape you’ve probably not heard of before. Marmo Maria in Puglia makes a varietal wine called Rosso Cocevola. This bottling offers a generous core of black raspberries and blackberries and is more fruit driven than the other two though it retains non-fruit undertones like lavender and anise. It is the fuller-bodied than the Gaglioppo, but it is well-balanced with bright acidity and mildly tugging tannins.
Third is an Aglianico called Bocca di Lupo from the Tormaresca estate in the Castel del Monte area of Puglia, owned by the highly acclaimed Antinori family. Puglia is easy to find on the map. It is the “heel” of “the boot.” This wine is the densest in weight but is, again, surprisingly aromatic in non-fruit notes, namely liquorice and white pepper. This wine crosses over between red and black cherries and is pleasantly tannic. It’s a perfect counterpoint to the meatballs.
These wines pair well with many hearty, winter-worthy meat dishes. So, if you find one you particularly enjoy, buy a few extra for the upcoming, bitter-cold nights!
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)