Wine Pairings for Spaghetti con Gamberi “Fra Diavolo”
Two ingredients in the Gamberi Fra Diaolo are critical to a good wine pairing: the shrimp and the chili pepper. Shellfish tends to taste metallic with red wines, so those are best avoided. The heat of the chili peppers can be intensified with higher alcohol wines, so look for wines at 13.5% alcohol by volume and under. An unoaked white quaffer works best, and Italy’s northeast corner has lots of Pinot Grigio to do just that.
Pinot Grigio’s classic flavors are bruised apples, yellow pears, freshly-turned earth and minerals. Overall, they are fairly neutral, so they allow the bold flavors of the pasta to shine. Still, the wine’s earthiness works with the bass notes of the garlic, and its mineral qualities link with the salt-water undertones of the shrimp. The lower alcohol versions of Pinot Grigio often show a touch of fresh herbs that works with the parsley, too.
Wines from Veneto and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia are better for this dish than those from Trentino and Alto-Adige as the latter wines usually go over 14% abv. The wines from the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia also show more crisp acidity and often have a pinch of tannin, too. Both of these properties clean the chili spice right off the palate. These wines are also light-to medium-bodied, better matching this mid-weight pasta than the mouth-coating versions from the mountains.
Check out our recipe for Spaghetti con Gamberi “Fra Diavolo.”
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)