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Fettucine Alfredo begs for something quite different from pasta primavera.

What Wine With Pasta?


Now that the holidays (and the turkey leftovers) are behind us, most home cooks are back to their standard repertoire of favorite suppers, many of which are likely to include pasta. But since there are many variations and permutations on pasta, the wines that accompany them vary, too. Without getting into a lot of boring wine-tech talk, I offer my own "guidelines" for choosing a pasta wine. The most important 'rule' is this: If the pasta dish hails from a specific region, by all means try a wine from that same region. But since knowing the pasta's geographic origin is not always possible, here are some basics to help you make a selection at the wine shop. Buon appetito a tutti! Tomato-based pasta
Tomato sauces range from thick, long-simmered Neapolitan-style mixtures to light, ethereal liquids that barely coat the noodles. But no matter how thick or how light the sauce, all tomatoes have acidity, so the accompanying wine should be able to stand up to the tomatoes' natural fruit acid. For classic, Southern Italian dishes (spaghetti and meatballs, for example), you usually can't go wrong with a Chianti, since it generally has a high degree of acidity of its own and, therefore, matches the acidity in the tomato sauce. However, if your tomato sauce is a light blend of barely crushed, barely cooked fresh tomatoes, you could try a white wine with pronounced acidity, such as a Gavi (from Italy's Piedmont region) or a Greco di Tufo from Southern Italy. Creamy pasta
Fettucine Alfredo is about as rich and creamy as a pasta dish can get. What to pour? My choice would be something cold and crisp to cut through the heaviness; a young California sauvignon blanc (one with little or no oak aging, please) or a Pouilly-Fumé from France. (There's no law that says you must serve an Italian wine with pasta!) My second choice would be a sparkling wine, perhaps a Prosecco. Want red with your Alfredo? Try something that will cut through the richness but won't overwhelm the delicate flavors, such as a Tuscan rosso di Montalcino or a pinot noir from Oregon. Meaty pasta
Duck lasagna and other rich, wintry pasta dishes featuring game or red meats are generally well matched with a big, Chianti Classico riservas, a Barbera or a Dolcetto di Alba. You could also try an amarone, if you're into really, really big reds. Vegetable pasta
The winter versions of pasta primavera are staples in my household: whole wheat linguine with kale and a smattering of prosciutto, penne with wilted spinach and just enough sautéed Italian sausage added as a seasoning. Sip a red from the Rhone region of France or an Italian Nebbiolo; both wines have enough personality to stand up to hearty winter vegetables without overwhelming them. Seafood pasta
Linguine with clams. Spaghetti with tuna and capers. Fettucine with crab. In my opinion, seafood or fish pasta dishes cry out for wines with crisp acidity, so avoid oaky chardonnays or heavy French Burgundies. Opt for a crisp Muscadet, a Sancerre, or an Italian Verdicchio or pinot grigio. All will add the same kind of zip that a squeeze of fresh lemon

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