Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Rotini (Vegan)
Bottle: 2015 Carpineta Fontalpino Chianti Classico (NB: unknown whether animal-based fining agents are used)
Is there anything more comforting than a big plate of hearty plate of pasta? Back when I was a meat eater, one of my favorite meals was Beef Bolognese. The decadently heavy, food-coma-inducing meal always hit the spot. Since giving up meat a few years ago, I have experimented with various different pasta recipes involving lentils, TVP, and other vegan protein sources. All were perfectly delicious and great alternatives. Honestly, in my opinion, the sauce is so heavy that you can't tell the difference between vegan and meat-based iterations.
This time, however, I wanted to deviate a bit and create something a little unique. The outcome is a chimera of Bolognese sauce, Arrabiata sauce, and Roasted Red Pepper sauce, and it is downright delicious. With the rich, heartiness of the Bolognese, the spice of the Arrabiata, and the earthiness of the red peppers, this dish is just begging to be paired with a good wine.
Normally, I would try to wander off in the wine puckerbrush and find an off-the-wall pairing. This time, however, I had to go with the classic - Chianti! Made almost entirely from Sangiovese grapes, Chianti wines are typically very dry and acidic with moderate to intense tannins. They are often describes as tart and bold, these are wines that pair amazingly with heavier dishes, where their aggressive flavors help lighten up the dish.
My Recommendation - Chianti Classico
On my last trip to Tuscany, I was fortunate enough to go on a wine tasting tour of the Chianti region, with an emphasis on the traditional houses and subregions. By far, my favorite subregion for Sangiovese-based wines was the Chianti Classico subregion. In this region, wines are aged a minimum of one year prior to release, unlike Chianti which only requires six months of aging. Further, for a bottle to qualify as a Chianti Classico, at least 80% must be Sangiovese grapes, while normal Chianti only requires 70%. In my experience, this increased focused on the Sangiovese grape leads to more of the tart cherry and cranberry flavors that I love about these wines.
Why this bottle in particular?
Made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, the Carpineta Fontalpino Chianti Classico is a stunning wine at a great price (often found for under $25). Produced by the Carpineta Fontalpino Vineyard near the town of Siena in the heart of Tuscany, this bottle exhibits all the trademark aromas and flavors of a well-made Chianti Classico, with a zingy tartness that is perfectly offset by a gripping element of peppery spice.
When first poured, the glass is full of aromas of cherry, leather, tobacco, and dust, perfectly accenting the smokey notes of the roasted peppers and tomatoes in the pasta sauce. As the wine opens up, further notes of currant and nuts begin to appear, highlighting the earthiness of the plant-based ground meat alternative. The wine is dry and tart on the palate, practically making you pucker at times, but in the best possible sense. This mouthwatering aspect enhances the enjoyment of the dish as it curbs the plates heartiness, while the acidic brightness of the wine draws out the vinegar in the sauce. While many other wines pair well with this meal, this has to be one of my favorites.
Other Great Choices
Reds: Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Barbera, Barbaresco, Chinon
Whites: German Riesling (if you increase the red chili flakes), Verdicchio, Gewürztraminer
Orange: Ribolla Gialla, Sauvignon Blanc
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