When I worked at my Uncle Tony’s liquor store in high school, I was often approached by customers asking me to recommend a wine to go with a particular dish.
Aside from the fact that they were asking a 16-year-old for wine advice, I did my best to accomodate them. Yet since my wine knowledge was rather limited at the time, some of the pairings were questionable.
Pork chops with apricot sauce? You might try this Mogen David made from Concord grapes. Cashew chicken? How about Richard’s Wild Irish Rose? Traditional Thanksgiving dinner? I suggest Riuniti on ice. It’s nice!
Well, a couple of wine importers from New York are offering a solution to the problem of which wine to serve with a particular entree. Cousins Darren and Ben Restivo, owners of Biagio Cru & Estate Wines, have launched the Food & Wine Collection, which pairs particular foods wines the company develops with selected vintners.
The wine I tried is called “Rigatoni Red” and it is made with a blend of varietals grown in Puglia, Italy, which is traditionally thought to be the place pasta was invented.
The wine was affordable, priced at $9.99/bottle. I paid $8.49 with the 15% discount I get at my wine store for buying 6 bottles or more at once.
I actually tried it twice, once without pasta and once with rigatoni and red sauce.The first time I enjoyed its smooth flavor on its own. It sort of had a Merlot-like mellowness going for it, with a little bit of a cherry tang. Definitely not a fruit bomb.
I wondered how it would stand up to a rich tomato-and-garlic pasta sauce. The answer is surprisingly well. The flavors of the wine and the pasta complemented each other so that both ended up tasting even better than they would by themselves, which is the way successful food and wine pairings are supposed to work.
The company also offers Bar-B-Que Red, made with grapes from France’s Rhone Valley; Fresh Catch White, a blend of Sicilian varietals; and Ribeye Red, which is composed of a blend of grapes from Argentina’s Fanatina Valley.
I haven’t seen those wines yet, but I’m looking forward to trying them. Especially if they pair as well with those dishes as Rigatoni Red did with the pasta.