Wine Pairings for Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
Bianco: Arnaldo Caprai Grecante & Marisa Cuomo Ravello Bianco
Rosso: Marisa Cuomo Fuore Rosso & Tenute Rubino Punta Aquila Primitivo
A pasta as assertive as Puttanesca demands very specific wines. But, of course, almost all Italian wines sport very distinctive character. In fact, all together, they are quite theatrical. Here are a few that take the main stage (or center table) with gusto.
From “stage right” enter the whites. Central and southern Italian whites have the medium body and broad mid-palate to support the boldness of this dish. They also show heartier, more savory elements as opposed to the lighter herbal notes typical in northern Italian whites. Look around for Arnaldo Caprai Grecante, an Umbrian wine made entirely from the local Grechetto grape. It is usually quite easy to find in fine wine stores. Alternatively, a blend whose flavors will also match well is Marisa Cuomo Ravello Bianco. This is an Amalfi coast blend of Falanghina and Biancolella. Chances are those grape names should roll-off the tongue more easily as the bottle is emptied! This wine also has an unbelievably gentle price!
From “stage left” appear the reds. The capers and tomatoes in this contribute brightness, so a wine with red berry lift will meld better than one whose flavors are focused exclusively on black fruits. Once again, the Marisa Cuomo wines strike the right balance. I pick the Fuore Rosso for this pasta. This juicy, savory red is a blend of Aglianico and the local Piedirosso. This juice shows a twig and underbrush character that remind me of the landscape of southern Italy. And as every Italian will tell you, it’s best to match your regions when it comes to wine and food pairing. However, if you think that even a hint of scrub oak might be best left out of your glass, pop open the Punta Aquila Primitivo from Tenute Rubino instead. The black raspberry aromas are accompanied by a swoosh of black currant on the palate, making this Puglian wine a pleasantly plump accompaniment to Puttanesca.
If you can’t find these specific wines, just remember to ask for central and southern Italian wines with some of the characteristics I mention above. And, as I often mention is the case with pasta, this one pairs better with wines seeing little to no oak.
p.s. Check out our recipe for Spaghetti alla Puttanesca.
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)