A pairing challenge...
I'm preparing this fun-looking recipe I found in an old Time-Life 'Cuisine of Italy' book, Manzo alla Sarda, or Sardinian style beef, and am trying to figure the perfect wine to serve it with.
But, in the hallowed words of American poet J.M. Jay – it's tricky.
The beef is marinating overnight in white wine, nutmeg and allspice, which it will later braise in, with some more white (an Argentinian sauvignon), some stock, a bay leaf and some parsley thrown in for good measure.
Later, I'll finish the sauce with some lemon juice, a chopped anchovy and some more parsley.
Now for the pairing...
Obviously, the White Argentine wouldn't be able to hold his own, so no go there. The braising white will, on the hand, soften and enliven the meat somewhat, and the lemon + anchovy finale calls for something with enough of its own acidity to impart. Not to mention the earthy spiciness of nutmeg and allspice that should hopefully linger.
So I ask, what acidic, spice-complimentary red should I be seeking out? A Chianti? An Amarone (ppfff... I wish!) or maybe even something Spanish? Or would it benefit from something with maybe a lighter body?
There is white wine...and there is white wine. If you have a full bodied, fruit forward white wine you certainly can stay with white. If you are cooking with that wine you can just continue it into dinner. The easy way out is to go the traditional route; Where you get the food you get the wine. You are making a traditional Sardinian dish. Try to find wines from Sardia or wines similar in character. With the warm weather they will tend to be fuller with bigger fruit. And finally the most important factor is, what wine do you like? We can all preach, but it comes down to your preferences. "The customer is always right"!
This wine might be a bit heavy for the dish (it's hard for me to determine just how big the flavors will be), but an interesting, affordable, widely available option might be Cantina Sociale Cooperativa Copertino Riserva (2003 is the current vintage). This is primarily from the negroamora grape, and has a very rustic, mellowed/aged dark fruit, high acidity, medium weight profile that might work if the dish is big enough. Usually about $13.
This sounds like a very "homey" type dish. I don't mean to cop out in creativity- but I love a nice Italian beef braise with Chianti or Chianti Classico. It is usually just the right weight that hits you right in the middle of the tongue and lingers through the meal. Especially if the nutmeg comes through.
On the other hand, if the sauce ends up being very bright (lots of parsley & lemon) a heavy enough white wine would be a more *creative* pairing- but you might have to spend a lot more to get a nice enough dry, spicy Gewurztraminer maybe? to hold up to the meat itself.
Thats a tough one!