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Need food pairing suggestion

I'm serving angle hair pasta with uncooked cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, parmesan, olive oil and a dash of red pepper flakes. What kind of wine do you recommend? Is there a red and a white? Just a white? Just a red? Thanks for your help.

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  1. A lighter aromatic white such as Falanghina would be great.

    1. the Selvapiana chianti rufina I had last week would be great with this. you can go in a lot of directions with this meal though

      1. Either one of the two previous suggestions would be very good with your angel hair pasta. Just depends whether you and your diners prefer red or white.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChefJune

          Thanks June. I have never heard of Falanghina and I am on a budget. Just looking for something inexpensive, simple and tasty. We are not very sophisticated wine drinkers. I'm just looking for a few suggestions. Do you have any other suggestions? THANKS!!!!

        2. In general this dish favors red wine, IMO. My first preference would be barbera, zinfandel probably second.

          As for whites, Chardonnay works reasonably well with parmesan and very well with basil and garlic so I'd probably do chardonnay here for a white.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Chicago Mike

            Why would you say it favors red wine? Sounds like a very light dish to me (uncooked cherry tomatoes, basil as predominant notes) and I'd be concerned that a red - esp. a zin, given the fruit bomb, high alcohol style so prevalent now - would overwhelm.

            This seems to me like the time to go to one of those bright high acid Italian whites like falanghina or vernaccia, or failing any of those more exotic varietals, even a good pinot grigio if you can find such a thing. For something a little bigger, maybe a greco di tufo.

            Chardonnay comes in so many different styles, from buttery oaky pineapple vanilla bombs to unoaked, steel-fermented, etc., that simply recommending "chardonnay" would seem not to give much useful guidance.

            1. re: Frodnesor

              my primary reasoning would be the parmesan and tomato notes, which i'm thinking will be the dominant flavors of the dish...

              To my palate parmesan clearly favors a variety of red wines. Tomato is particularly nice with barbera, that's why it would be my first choice here.

          2. White from Friuli or Alto Adige. *Maybe* a dry Alsatian (Tokay) Pinot Gris.

            You could do almost anything from those regions;a good Tocai, Muller-Thurgau, even Sauvignon...

            Reading down the thread as to your budget and experience, I would go into a local wine store you trust with a big selection of Italian whites and say, "I'm looking for a white wine from Nothern Italy that is minerally, a little on the fuller-bodied side, yet hasn't seen any oak treatment" -- and see what happens.

            1. The dish is essentially a white wine dish, though a Rose would be nice.

              In terms of the overall intensity of the dish, the dish is rather light. Not light like Dover sole, but not at all hearty like a true (red) marinara sauce that could easily pair with a red wine.

              Here, the angel hair pasta is very light or even neutral in flavor, the fresh tomatoes provide a minor fruity touch, and the basil, garlic and Parmesan provide only hints of intensity. All the flavors together in this summer pasta dish don't generate enough intensity to pair successfully with a wine any more intense than a Rose.

              If the same ingredients were used to construct a different dish, it might be a perfect match for a red wine. If a quantity of tomatoes were simmered and concentrated and made into a sauce, and if that sauce included garlic, basil, wine, some red pepper flakes and Parmesan, that would create enough flavor intensity to pair with a red wine. Not only do the individual ingredients matter in creating a pairing, but also how they're cooked, and the relative proportion of each ingredient to the overall flavor.

              Following along this logic -- and I'm offering it out here just as an example -- if you really loaded up the pasta with Parmesan/Parmigiano and garlic (or roasted garlic), and the fresh cherry tomatoes and basil were sort of an afterthought that were thrown in as you tossed the dish, that might be a good red wine pairing. In this construction, the most intense, pungent ingredients -- the Parmigiano and garlic -- play much bigger roles in the overall dish and the resulting intensity is big enough to warrant a red wine. So you can see how "weighting" the ingredients differently could change the dish to a red wine.

              Or, you could do what I've often done...just eat a hunk of Parmigiano with red wine. That works very well, but I know that's not what you're after!

              And, by the way, it's not that a red wine will be bad with the fresh and light summer pasta dish you've described, it just won't be the best pairing. Hope it all works out well.

              19 Replies
              1. re: maria lorraine

                how do we know what the "intensity" is... we're just given a list of ingredients...

                1. re: Chicago Mike

                  I think most folks taking a look at the ingredient list could get a sense of their balance and intensity, in the same way you would when looking at a dish's description on a restaurant menu. If I saw that description, I would think "light, fresh dish" and be looking to match with a lighter white wine - I would not be thinking "heavy, cheesy dish" and be looking to match with a big red.

                  The primary clue to me is the uncooked cherry tomatoes which would seem to be the primary "featured" ingredient. What would I pair with that, and does it work with the rest of the ingredients?

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    Wow, you guys are awesome...this IS a light summer dish. I'll be marinating the tomatoes in garlic, olive oil, some fresh basil, crushed red pepper flakes s & p for a few hours before tossing them onto the cooked pasta. I'll then sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of parmesan. So you think a rose? anything between $10-12.00 come to mind?

                    1. re: Mayflour

                      You can put any labels like "light summery" on something that you want, but 1 and a half cups of crushed parmesan hardly sounds "delicate"... that's going to have a very profound flavor..;.

                      Not to mention tomatoes marinated in garlic...

                      Again, if you want to go white with this, chardonnay is the obvious choice, but given the prominence of parmesan you're missing out on it's affinity for at least a medium bodied red here... rose isn't a primary pairing for parmesan and strikes me as weak for this dish...

                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                        1-1/2 cups of parm for how many servings? The presence alone of garlic or tomatoes or parm does not justify a red wine pairing.

                        Red wine runs the risk of drowning out the summer-i-ness of the dish. It could easily drown out the flavor of *fresh* tomatoes, even fresh tomatoes marinated in garlic. There's no basic equation of, if *this* or *that* ingredient is in a dish, then *this* wine is the best. Pairing a wine to the cheese alone or the tomatoes alone doesn't pair the wine to the dish.

                        My tendency is to go Italian with this dish, but any white wine with good acid and liveliness would be nice. Chardonnay is not an obvious choice, nor even the best choice, IMO. An Italian white wine is what I'd do, something like Gavi (the Cortese grape), Arneis (the best wine with fresh tomatoes, IMO), Friulano (also called Tocai Friulano). or some of the other white wines from the regions of Alto Adige or Friuli. It might be difficult to find an Italian white in your price range, so in that case, I'd go with an inexpensive Torrontes or a Pinot Gris -- the King Pinot Gris from Washington State is widely available and about $15, and there are many good Pinot Gris buys from Oregon and Washington. A sparkling wine would be lovely and refreshing, something like Gruet or Mumm Napa or Prosecco, all well within your price range. Last, a dry Rose would meld very well with the tomatoes and cheese and basil -- it's often paired with dishes like this in the summer in Italy and southern France, so that's another option in your price range. Finally, a red wine is OK, though I'd prefer to let your ingredients shine and not have them overpowered by a red wine.

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          It's lunchtime, and using the Mouli, I just grated 1-1/2 cups of Parm -- it's exactly 4.05 ounces, so not a lot, or an assertive presence in a pasta dish that serves 3-4 people, or an entree-sized portion for 2 persons. I'd only use freshly grated Parm or the less expensive Grana Padano or Asiago for a fresh summer dish like this.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Anyway I look at it...

                            1) OUNCE or more of cheese on my dish

                            2) 1/4 to 1/3 CUP of cheese on my dish

                            To my palate these are not"delicate" servings of parmesan... perhaps it is to your palate, that's a personal difference.

                            A "hint" of parmesan reggiano to me is a sprinkled teaspoon or two, not 1/3 of a cup, but again, that's personal taste.

                            To put this into some perspective, one ounce of mozarella is about how much goes onto a serving of "chicken parmesan", and everyone knows that cheese is a major flavor note in that dish. Well imagine the flavor of an ounce of Parmesan Reggiano which is many times bolder than mozarella...

                            Since for me an ounce of cheese, especially a dramatic cheese like Parmesan is a major serving and constitutes a major flavor note in the dish, I would prefer a wine that is the best match for it... and those are all richer red wines.

                            1. re: Chicago Mike

                              You, the cheese lover, the guy who puts cheese in everything, thinks an ounce of freshly grated, fluffy Parmigiano Reggiano is a lot?

                              I just don't agree with what you've written, Mike, and I'm a veteran Italian cook. That's why it was so easy for me to pop out of my office at lunchtime, head into the kitchen, pull out the Reggiano and Mouli and measure it. I do understand that store-grated brands and cheaper parm or Romano will be more pungent and salty.

                              By the way, we still don't know how many people that 1-1/2 cups of Parm is serving -- it could be four persons or 2 or 6 or 8. And we don't know the ratio of Parm to pasta. Stir 1-1/2 cups of freshly grated Parm into a pound of hot steaming pasta and it's not much in terms of intense Parm flavor.

                              If cheese were the only element or even the dominant element in the dish, I'd go with red wine too. But it's not -- it's part of a group of ingredients, a group of ingredients characterized by their summer freshness, and the ingredient with the largest volume -- the pasta -- is neutral and relatively bland. You pair the wine to the dish, not to the ingredients.

                              However, I adore a hunk of Reggiano all by its lonesome with some red wine, or some Amarone, or some Amarone and aged balsamic.
                              Or, Caesar salad and red wine. But not this fresh, summer pasta dish.

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  well as I've said, an ounce of cheese is as much cheese as you'd have in a serving of chicken parmesan.... it's a full serving by anyone's measure...

                                  ... I'm not saying that it's too much, just that it's not a "delicate" amount or a "hint" but rather a very solid portion which will constitute a primary flavor note of the dish...

                                  ... and while I often will make a dish more wine-friendly by adding cheese "to taste", I do so with a target wine in mind that matches the cheese...

                                  This thread just reflects palate preferences. I'd go white and red here.... chardonnay (or champagne blanc de blancs) and probably zinfandel.... but it sounds like the "majority" would choose a white or sparkler.... to each their own.

                                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                                    FWIW, I've never measured how much cheese I put on chicken parm, but I'd wager I put a hell of a lot more on a 3/4lb breast than 1 oz.

                                    1. re: whiner

                                      Don't wager too much. The typical amount is one or two slices, typically you get about 8 to 10 slices in an 8oz package... check any recipe.

                                      But you could look at it another way, you probably don't put more than 1/3 of a cup of cheese on one portion of chicken breast do you ?

                                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                                        Well... I make a bastardized version of Chicken Parm involving grilled whole breasts....

                                        But I use fresh mozarella and I deffinitely buy more than one 1lb container if I'm preparing for more than 6 people if the only other thing for dinner is a salad and maybe a little other veggie.

                                        But even if you were using low moisture mozerella, it is hard for me to think that you would go through at least 2oz.

                                        1. re: whiner

                                          Don't forget to include the Parm in the Chicken Parm...
                                          Mozz + parm for your total cheese ounces...seems like more than 1 oz. per person...........

                                          But mozz is mild, especially the fresh mozz Whiner and I use rather than the packaged, sliced stuff.

                                          Probably not an oz. of Parm per person in Chicken Parm, though. But lots of breading and frying and chicken and tomato sauce and mozz and Parm and all that bubbly goodness...

                                          Newsflash: here's a Chowhound feature recipe on Chicken Parm:

                                          Chicken Parmesan Recipe
                                          Makes: 6 servings
                                          3 (11- to 12-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally
                                          3/4 cup all-purpose flour
                                          3/4 cup whole milk
                                          2 large eggs, beaten
                                          1 1/2 cups panko
                                          1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 ounce)
                                          1 cup olive oil
                                          3 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
                                          1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (about 20 medium leaves)
                                          8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 12 thin slices

                                          That's 4 oz cooked chicken per person, plus nearly 3 T. olive oil per person, plus 1.3 oz mozz per person plus tomato sauce plus eggs plus breading plus Parm for a total of 880 calories per serving. Gulp.

                                          But look at the Parm in the recipe...1/2 cup is only 1/2 ounce, it says...meaning, above, that 1-1/2 cups would only be 1-1/2 ounces of Parm....

                                          My measurement was different...I grated straight from the Mouli into the measuring cup, then went straight to the scale...scratching my head in confusion at the discrepancy. So I don't know if the OP's Parm is 1-1/2 ounces or 4 ounces. In any case, I really don't think it's a dominant flavor.

                                          Here's the recipe link -- other recipes for Chic Parm on CH, too:

                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                            Oh, BELIEVE me Maria, I include it!

                                            Actually, my chicken parm isn't really chicken parm. I marinate whole boneless skinless breasts in lemon juice, garlic, fresh oregano, salt, pepper and a little olive oil, then grill them. Then I bake the whole grilled breasts smothered in my tomato sauce and completely covered with about 2/3-3/4 fesh mozarella and 1/3-1/4 freshly grated parm. Then once out of the oven, top with a little fresh basil.

                                            I can't imagine I use less than 2oz of cheese per person. But I'm also a glutton, so who knows? ;-)

                                            1. re: whiner

                                              It's usually Mike who's the cheese glutton!
                                              He is the very model of restraint here!!

                                              Even though, that Chicken Parm at 880 calories per serving
                                              is a bit, um, .........

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                haha, yes... I have no idea how much per serving it is. AND I start with grilling boneless, skinless breasts... which doesn't seem like it should be so bad for you...

                        2. re: Mayflour


                          I agree you are maiking a lighter, fresh flavored dish and a mineral-y white (or rose) is the way to go. I wouldn't go red or Chardonnay.

                          For specific rec in you rprice range, no rose jumps out at me, but for a dollar or two more, the Icardi Cortese (an Italian white) might be very nice. So might, actually, one of any number of Proseccos, come to think of it.

                          1. re: Mayflour

                            If you want to go rose, I've found several nice examples from Spain lately. I've liked Artazuri Navarra Rose, Bodegas Muga makes a nice Rioja Rosado. Or the Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare I almost always enjoy too. All should be under $15.

                      1. re: ibstatguy

                        O.k. folks. I just went out and bought my wine. My guests will be here at 6:30 so I had to take the leap. So, here's what I bought.
                        Prosecco AND Rose. Thank you all for your expertise and suggestions. If anyone is interested, I'll let you know how it all shakes down with a report tomorrow.

                        1. re: Mayflour

                          Dinner party went well. The five of us really enjoyed the dish and only 2 of us drank the wine. Everyone else opted for beer....go figure, after all that!!! We went with the rose and really enjoyed it. We didn't even open the prosecco! Thanks again for all of your advice!