Sparkling: Verdicchio “Voile” from Fontezoppa
White: Pinot Grigio from Marco Cecchini and Borgo
Clams are briny. Wines with loads of minerality and a hint of earthiness make a perfect match.
White wine, along with sparkling white wine, is the only way to go with this dish. Lighter rosatos could work, but they tend to be more fruit-driven. The fruit-driven flavors of watermelon and strawberries just do not meld with clams. Red wines produce a metallic taste against shellfish. Despite all the odd descriptors wine folk use positively (like barnyard, pencil lead, ashphalt), this experience is best avoided.
I’ve written many times about Verdicchio (check out my wine pairings for Penne con le Fave, Spaghetti con Tonno and Spaghetti ai Carciofi) which is truly one of my favorite Italian whites. To change the pace while sticking to this wonderfully complex variety and its curiously saline properties, I recently happened upon sparkling Verdicchio. Made by Fontezoppa in the Marche, it is packed with flavors of tart green apples and blanched almonds…and bubbles. Of course, any of the still Verdicchios I’ve mentioned previously as well as Garafoli’s Verdicchio Podium work with this linguine perfectly.
A more classic option with all the gritty minerality this dish begs for is Pinot Grigio. Marco Cecchini’s Bellagioia from the Veneto was recently a hit among a circle of friends. Also, I recently tasted Borgo Maddelena’s last bottling…it’s just right. I mentioned some other Pinot Grigios to go with the Pasta Primavera recipe a while back. Check them out, too!
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)
Click here for Spaghetti alle Vongole al Pomodori.