You can call it autumn. I call it pasta season. And, while I am generally a “red sauce or hit the bricks” kind of guy, during the fall harvest I can get into a spicy butternut squash and kale penne or a broccoli and walnut pesto over spaghetti. I can get into them even more with an Italian red wine.
Italian reds are ideal pasta season wines. Yes, I am mostly talking about a nice Chianti. But how about a blend of Corvina, Croatina and Merlot? Or maybe a unique Tuscan red? Here are four bottles from Italy that you can drink with red sauce or, if you must, a pesto pasta, box of macaroni and cheese or leftover Hallowen candy (note: all red wines pair well with fun-sized candy bars).
San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva 2019 ($23)
This is your fancy, just-a-bit-pricey entree into the world of Chianti Classico – a dry, red wine made only in Tuscany. Some find the refreshing acidity of Chiantis too much, but once paired with the right pizza, pasta, cheese or fruit, these wines can compete with any red. With its tangy acidity, the Il Grigio is a favorite of wine expert James Suckling. He offers some advice: “Already delicious now, but you should hold this for two years and wait for additional complexity to emerge.” Or put your kids to bed, break into their candy stash and drink it tonight.
Passione Sentimento Veneto Rosso 2019 ($16)
The Montagues and Capulets didn’t get along. Maybe they should have shared a couple of bottles of this Valpolicella blend and a nice wheel of grana padano. Corvina, Croatina and Merlot grapes get along just fine in this wine inspired by Romeo and Juliet’s romance. The ruby red vintage has a wonderfully palate – for those who find Chanti too dry and forceful, this blend is a bit smoother, a bit sweeter and has a soft finish. It’s a perfect Italian red to get you started on the country’s offerings.
Villa Antinori Rosso 2019 ($20)
Italians love grapes, lots and lots of different grapes. Yes, because of Sangiovese’s dominant role in all Chiantis, the grape is Tuscany’s favorite. But this Villa Antinori Rosso features a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. And it works. This century’s old estate figured out how to expand their wines with dashes and splashes of non-native grapes. The Villa Antinori Rosso tastes as a Tuscan offering should, but it doesn’t have that intimating dry bite. Instead it’s smooth and balanced with medium body, acidity and tannins.
Poggio Rosso Chianti Classico Gran Selezione ($58)
If you’ve had a glass of wine alongside something with truffle oil, you may have noticed the truffle flavor walk across the table and sock the wine in the mouth. Your antidote is the Poggio Rosso Chianti Classico Gran Selezione – if you can afford it (it is absolutely a splurge). But this wine has the strength to stand up to tough aged cheeses, rich risotto and grilled mushrooms. It might be the Platonic ideal of Chianti Classico: plenty of body but not thick, a punch of acidity with just enough fruit to pull you through it. One reviewer captured it: “The style is extroverted – there is no doubting that – but all the elements are impeccably balanced.”