Usually I start these blog post reminiscing about an old family recipe, followed by detailed instructions on how to prepare it and finish it off with a couple of wines pairings. Today we’ll flip things around and start off with the wines and then give you a killer recipe for your Sunday Supper.
Growing up in the suburbs of New York City with my grandparents, I have fond memories of our Sunday Meals usually shared with many family members. My Uncle Jim, married to my mom’s sister (Aunt Francis), would stop by the house after his trip into Brooklyn to visit with his family and drop off a loaf of Italian bread and a bottle or two of wine.
The wine a Chianti, wrapped in a basket, was always considered a necessary part of our Sunday Feast. I can remember at sixteen being allowed a sip and not sure if I really understood the importance of this Sunday dinner staple.
Now of course, I cannot even think about putting a meal together without considering first and foremost what wine will accompany the food. The good part is that you don’t have to break into the bank for the perfect wine with Italian food, as many of my picks are attractively priced. Here’s my list of my top 3 Italian wines to go with Sunday.
Chianti Classico: My top choice and some of my favorite Italian wines are Chianti Classico’s. Made from the Sangiovese grape in the Tuscan region, Chianto Classico is still somewhat associated as the wine in the basket. Wines labelled “Chianti Classico” come from the biggest sub-area of Chianti, that includes the original Chianti heartland. Only Chianti from this sub-zone may boast the black rooster seal on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the Chianti Classico Consortium.
Chianti Classico varies in price anywhere from $15.00 all the way to high end wines priced near $100.00 and above. You can find a great deal with this variety at around $20.00. Try Castellare 2010 ($24.00) or Badia a Coltibuono 2009 ($19.99) a five star classic for under $20.00
Aglianico: An under the radar wine from the Southern Italian regions of Campania and Basilcata. Aglianico remains one of my favorite options to pair with a Sunday meal. A dark almost black grape the wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full- bodied with firm tannis, high acidity and perfect for aging.
Aglianico can be pricy, but I have found some excellent wines of this variety from $15.00 to $25.00. My top choice in this range is Azienda-Bisceglia-Aglianico del VultureGudarra-2008 ($19.99), but I’m also impressed with Vinosia Irpinia 2009 ($15.99).
Nero d’Avola: If it wasn’t Chianti that made grandmas Sunday table is was the Sicilian favorite Nero d’Avola. Ignored for many years Sicilian wines have been re-discovered as of late and they are enjoying an increase in sales. These are wines with sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavors.
I’ve talked about Nero’s a lot on this site and have made many suggestions. Here are a few more that will give you the expected results without costing you a pretty penny. Feudo Maccari Nero d’Avola 2010. A five star rated wine for $14.99. Money has it you will also enjoy Colosi Colosi Nero d’Avola again at $14.99.
Well now that we got the wine out of the way, what do we serve for dinner. When my mom’s family came over on Sundays it was usually a simple salad with spaghetti and meatballs. With wine, bread and close family ties each Sunday felt like a celebration.
There were times when we celebrated a birthday or anniversary and you could always expect something beyond the ordinary. Here is a dish my mother and grandmother used to collaborate on that had everyone happy they stopped by.
Stuffed Rigatoni – This recipe can be found in “7 Days of Italian Cooking – Gracie’s Guide to Everyday Meals.
The Filling: Pretty much the same as you would do for a Manicotti, I just add diced Panchetta. Brown the Panchetta in a pan of olive oil prior to using.
- 1 1/2 cups of whole milk Ricotta Cheese
- 1/4 lb. shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 lb. diced Panchetta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the Rigatoni in a pot of salted water until almost al dente. Remember they are going to cook further in the oven.
Add all your ingredients for the filling into a large bowl and mix well. Remove the Rigatoni from the water and drain. My mom used to rinse the Rigatoni in cold water, but I just try and let them cool down enough to work with.
Carefully stuff each Rigatoni with the mix and arrange in a casserole or baking dish. I put a little gravy on the bottom and cover the top with more sauce. Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Make sure the Rigatoni does not dry out by adding sauce over the top if needed.
Sometimes I add a little grated Parmesan or shredded Mozzarella while it is baking.
There you have it. A wine and food pairing fit for a Sunday Feast and it all comes about by putting the wine first.