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Guest Post: Thoughts on Wine for World Pasta Day

October 22, 2010

There’s one thing you should know about me: I’m a Boston girl who likes her wine. That’s why it was so nice to meet Cathy Huyghe on Monday night. Cathy is the founder of Red White Boston, a new iPhone app that brings Bostonians to “the front door of the nearest wine shop.” Based on that line alone, I was sold! But once you get to heaven the wine shop, Red White Boston will tell you “which five wines that store thinks are especially cool. And you can read (or listen, or watch a mini-video) about why the owners chose to stock it on their shelves.” Amazing!

If you’ve been following our Twitter feed at all over the past few weeks, you’re probably very aware of the fact that World Pasta Day is on Monday, October 25th, and we’re very excited about it. So you know you need to eat pasta on that day, but what will you be DRINKING with that special meal? Cathy was kind enough to write a post explaining how to do just that! – Alison

A wine drinker’s view of the world, if that wine drinker lived in Campania, would look a lot like the “New Yorker’s View of the World” cartoon by Saul Steinberg.

Half of the cartoon would be a detailed drawing of their city block and their closest wine shop, such as the Enoteca Mercadante along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Naples.

The top half of the cartoon would depict the rest of the wine-producing world, with most of it dedicated to the regions immediately surrounding Campania. Umbria and Lazio, being the nearest, still have some clarity but after that the boundaries grow increasingly vague. Sicily and Sardenia are a little blurry, Tuscany, Piemonte, and Emilia Romagna even more so. It goes on like this until the furthest reaches of Italy — Liguria, say — merits only a suggestive sketch.

France? It’s a flattened land mass way at the top of the cartoon. Just like South America, California, Australia, and every other wine-producing region on earth.

Residents of Campania, in other words, are interested in drinking wine first and foremost from Campania. They do the drink local-eat local thing as a simple matter of course. And they’ve been doing it – with their pasta, vegetables, meats, sauces and the wines they drink with them – way, way before it became fashionable.

So when it comes to wine pairings, and especially on World Pasta Day, it seems to me to make sense to do what the Italians do: find a wine that’s as close to the source of your food as possible.

Here are some ideas.

  • Focus on the pasta itself, then focus on what you surround it with. Jacqueline Church, for example, writes about pasta made from einkorn wheat. Einkorn is an ancient grain grown in some of the poorest soils, which already suggests a hardiness of texture that would stand up to the more assertive grapes and winemaking styles like Malbec from the Cahors region of France. Yet you probably aren’t going to eat einkorn wheat pasta on its own. Surround it with a rich preparation like a stew, confit, or roast and you’ve got a pairing to seriously tuck into.
  • When you’re talking about pasta in the U.S., you won’t go too long without running into a tomato. What wine pairs with tomato dishes? If it’s a lighter dish (tomato with cod or clams, for example), I like Pinot Gris; since I live in the northeast and can find fish that’s been caught nearby, I’d go for a local varietal like Vidal Blanc. If the dish with tomato has got more heft to it, and includes a preparation from pork (bacon or sausage), I’ll go for a Dolcetto or Nero d’Avola.
  • The buzz about World Pasta Day has food lovers everywhere making – or thinking about making, or admiring others who do in fact make – their own pasta. Which immediately makes me wonder: what are these people drinking while all of this preparation is going on? For this I highly recommend a sparkling wine, partly because sparkling wine simply makes me happy and partly because World Pasta Day is a celebration after all! My choice would be a Blanc de Blancs from nearby Westport Rivers in Westport, Massachusetts.

Finally, I’d like to point to the wine portion of Oldways’ Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. The recommendation is for wine in moderation, which means a glass a day for women and one to two glasses a day for men. The recommendation is also that the wine is normally consumed with meals. On Monday, October 25, let that meal be PASTA.

– Cathy

Have you downloaded the Red White Boston app yet?

If you’d like to write a guest-post for The Oldways Table Blog, email Alison at aclancy@oldwayspt.org! We’d love to have you!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2010 7:55 pm

    Great post! I love how it goes beyond the “usual” wines you might see at your standard Italian restaurant and really looks at all of the ingredients of each dish.

  2. October 25, 2010 9:30 pm

    Great article! The comparison to Steinberg’s illustration is perfect. I’m wondering, what would you suggest as a wine pairing for Wild Mushroom Ragu with Bucatini? The pasta is Italian, the shitake and chanterelle mushrooms domestic, and I’m eating it all in NYC. http://www.mediterraneanista.com/content/recipe-wild-mushroom-ragu-bucatini

    • October 26, 2010 5:00 pm

      Basia, this is Cathy’s very serious and scientific response 😉

      Basia, please do the following:

      1. Stop at your favorite local wine shop and talk to your favorite person on staff. Alternatively, ask a friend where they think you should go!

      2. Tell the wine shop person what you’re cooking and that you’ve heard good things about pairing it with Barbera. Give them a specific dollar amount you’re willing to spend. (Tip: Barberas can be very good without being very expensive.)

      3. Ask them what they recommend. Get them to tell you the story of why they’re recommending that particular wine.

      4. If you like what you hear, buy the bottle.

      5. Take it home and open it to drink with dinner and while you’re cooking it. Extra points if some of the wine tips into your ragu.

      6. Do a little dance.

      7. Enjoy the pasta and the wine. Don’t forget to toast!

      8. Report back.

      – Cathy

  3. October 26, 2010 5:23 pm

    Thanks. Asking, tipping and dancing I will do! Especially with Barbera.

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