Wine pairings for Spaghetti all’Amatriciana Leggera
Red: Tai Rosso from Rezzadore; Schiava “Elda” from Mayr-Nusser and Vernatsch from Gumphof
Among Italy’s abundance of native varieties are quite a few black grapes that fall somewhere between a deep rose and a very light red. These are the perfectly “light” reds to accompany spaghetti all’amatriciana leggera. Two grape varieties in particular come to mind: Tocai Rosso and Schiava. If these prove elusive in your local wine stores, turn to Nero d’Avola or, better yet, a Nero d’Avola rosato for similar effect. All of these wines benefit from a light chill of 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator. If you leave the bottle in longer, worry not. The summertime warmth surrounding your table will warm the wine in the bottle and the glasses faster than you would expect.
Tai Rosso from Rezzadore is a new-found favorite. The wine is named “Tai” instead of “Tocai,” its grape variety, because of the EU ruling that “Tocai” is confusing with Hungary’s Tokaji wine. (Sidebar: you may agree this is confusing for a few reasons. First, if you’ve heard of Tocai, the Italian variety, you probably associate it with white wine. I would, too, until I learned of its red counterpart just this week. Second, if you are familiar with Italian Tocai wines, you probably think of them as dry wines. If you’re familiar with Hungarian Tokaji, you know the wines are always sweet. This is one of several reasons the EU ruled to call Tocai wines must be called a different name – to prevent confusion. The whites are now called Friulano after the region where that grape is most commonly grown.) So, what is this peculiar red like? It looks more like a dark rosato than red with gentle tannins, oodles of cranberry notes, rosemary undertones and light body. At only 12.5% alcohol, it’s also a super wine to sip with friends whiling away a hot summer afternoon.
In the mountainous Alto Adige region, Schiava is a local classic. The German-speaking portion of the region calls Schiava “Vernatsch,” so be on the lookout for both names. These wines brim with crunchy red cherries and fresh peppermint yet sport a decidedly smoky side. The smokiness melds well with the prosciutto in this dish. Mayr-Nusser’s Schiava “Elda” bottling and Gumphof’s Vernatsch are both compelling examples.
Check out our recipe for Spaghetti all’Amatriciana Leggara .
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)