There are some foods that demand a thoughtful wine pairing to give them the recognition they have earned. Champagne and caviar comes to mind and so does Chablis and oysters, not to mention wine pairing at its simplest with Cabernet and steak. We often figure out the menu and then choose a wine to go with it.
In my wine philosophy it’s just as important to decide what you’re drinking first and decide what to cook based on that. More than not it’s an Italian wine that motivates my recipe searches for a compatible Italian inspired meal. If I’m not using the web as a reference my go to Italian recipe guide is Mario Batali’s Molto Mario cookbook.
Having already made a meat ragu the previous night, an unopened bottle of Mauro Molino Nebbiolo 2005 rallied my attention span long enough to make some homemade gnocchi to hold the aforementioned ragu. Since any time-intensive cooking needs wine for drinking I opened up this bottle while prepping the potatoes.
In the glass the wine immediately showed its Italian roots with dried cherry, chalk and tar aromas. While showing extremely ripe aromas it still revealed a lively strawberry fruit leather note along with some seductive dark chocolate and cinnamon notes. The nose just hit my sweet spot as its what I look for in Italian reds.
On the palate it didn’t miss a beat with its gravelly tannins and fresh acidity. There was just enough flesh to keep it mouth filling and full enough to play well with its rustic feel. The finish was surprisingly delicate with just enough fruit and fine tannic grip to keep it from being too thin.
Paired with my gnocchi the overall meal was dynamite. The delicate gnocchi with rich sauce was the perfect partner for this Nebbiolo. The combo was as good a meal as I’ve had in years and the wine itself made a case for me buying another bottle as soon as I can. For $16 I don’t even want to know what other people are drinking when they can find a wine like this for the same dough.