Grignolino: Springtime Pasta’s Perfect Pair

One of the things that most interests me as a sommelier is the wide variety of grapes grown. It fascinates me that each one has its own qualities and can taste vastly different. Yes, there are the fan favorites, the heavy hitters, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. But what about the hundreds of others? In Italy alone there are over 900 different varieties. My goal is to try them all.

So I was very excited when I picked up a bottle of Grignolino d’Asti. Grignolino is a grape grown in the Piemonte region of northwestern Italy. This area is most famous for Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, and the sweet, bubbly Moscato. But this grape should not be missed! It’s very light red in color, at first glance it almost looks like a rose. On the palate it is fresh and fruity with notes of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, and pomegranate. Yet it is still uniquely Italian with an earthy, savoriness and a hint of white pepper and roses. This wine can be served at room temperature or slightly chilled with fresh salads and seafood.

I decided to pair my 2019 Marchesi Incisa della Rocchetta Grignolino d’Asti with a crab and fennel pasta. This wine is light enough for seafood but has just enough grippy tannins to pair with a pasta dish full of fresh veggies. And, in a strange twist of fate, the power went out while I was cooking so I got to chop my fennel bulb and cook my pasta by candle light!

I sipped a little wine while I cooked and could see how this would be lovely slightly chilled on a hot summer day. I’ve never been much of a rose drinker. I like a wine with a little more umph, so for me this wine was the perfect alternative. I could drink this with a strawberry spinach salad or with a piece of grilled salmon.

For the pasta, I served the wine room temperature. And it was lovely! The grilled fennel and fresh crab went perfectly with the wine. I topped the pasta with fresh tomatoes, mint, and basil. Voila!

I found my bottle of Grignolino at Buvette in Sherman Oaks but you can also find it on wine.com. Also, keep a lookout as small amounts of this grape are being experimented with in California. I hope you try this unique wine and come up with some pairings of your own. Next time I think I’ll try it with a fresh pea and pancetta pasta. Cheers!

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