Last night’s pairing surprised us more than anything we’ve experienced so far this year. It involved Italian wine, a homemade pizza and a CD we hadn’t heard in years. It all started back in 2005…
We used to be regulars at — what we still consider to be — the best wine bar in New York. It has a fantastic selection of Italian wines and the kitchen consistently turns out great pastas and outrageously delicious pizzas. The atmosphere is always buzzing too, with an eclectic range of music that we always really enjoy. So although we often tried to recapture the bar’s magic at home, we never did… and for the longest time we pretty much gave up on Italian wine pairing.
Fast-forward 5 years…
On a recent shopping spree, we asked the owner of a wonderful Brooklyn wine shop to recommend some of her favorite wines. Without hesitation, she grabbed a bottle of Tenuta delle Terre Nere 2008. Gasp — the dreaded Italian wine pairing challenge! She told us the wine’s grapes were from the slopes of Mount Etna (home of the Sicilian volcano of the same name). Even more interesting was that 2008 was the first vintage to be certified organic. At $21, it wasn’t the cheapest bottle in the shop but hey, it’s organic wine grown on a volcano. Sold!
Smelling this wine is like walking into a flower and herb garden in late summer. Basil and chive are the primary aromas, with the smell of candied cherry in the background. The color is a pale, brick red, much different from the deep almost purplish color that some southern Italian wines can be. On the finish, there’s a lingering taste of ash, which sounds terrible but it’s really quite amazing and definitely reminds you of the wine’s terroir. And much like a Ferrari calls for the open road, this wine screams for food.
In the spirit of going all out, we decided to make homemade pizza to go with the Tenuta. Deb’s Broccoli Rabe and Roasted Onions Pizza recipe seemed like it would be a winner (we cheated by buying fresh dough from our corner pizzeria). It was definitely a good choice. The bitterness of the rabe and the lightness of a yellow pepper thrown in at the last minute added another tasty layer to the wine’s delicate balance of flavor and structure… neither one overpowering the other but playing nicely together.
As we sat at the table talking about how great the pizza and wine were, a CD started that we hadn’t heard in a LONG time… and then it happened. We were transported back to that wine bar. The combination of this wine, our pizza and some great tunes finally did the trick!
So if you’ve been searching for a simple, great tasting, authentic Italian meal at home — this is a great one to try.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere 2008, $21 at Dandelion Wines, 153 Franklin Street, Brooklyn.