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Which Wines Go Best with Baked Pasta?

Which Wines Go Best with Baked Pasta?

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For a relaxed weekend get-together, pair a comfort-food favorite like baked pasta with a nice glass of wine. Find our favorite bottles for 4 pasta classics.

The automatic pasta-Chianti pairing is long dead, and matching noodles and wine is trickier than it might seem. Pasta is dense and chewy and usually wants a silky-textured wine with a rich mouthfeel, but the sauce needs to be considered. Tomato sauce usually calls for a red wine with acidity to hold up to the tomatoes—but avoid the monster tannins of, say, a cab. Layer a casserole with white sauce, and it's white wine you want—one with flavors to match the other ingredients in the dish. Meanwhile, pungent cheeses can throw a curveball. We put four baked pastas to the test. From steals to splurges, try these.

Chicken Tetrazzini
A classic, creamy version calls for California chardonnay. The grape in general has the ideal rich texture for pasta, but the creamy apple, melon, and pear fruits in West Coast chards love chicken. Pick one with bright lemon and a mineral edge.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Seafood Lasagna
Shrimp and scallops plus béchamel need a wine that's both delicate and rich: Northwest pinot gris. Each of these selections offers sweet apple, pear, and hints of stone fruit, all of which have an affinity for shellfish, and they're brightened with citrus and mineral flavors.

With tomato sauce and white sauce, this pasta is a challenge for wine. But ground beef points to red. Tempranillo has dark, tangy fruit that's a perfect match for the tomatoey beef. And each of the picks also works with the creamy side of the dish.

Baked Ziti
This vegetarian dish hits a lot of flavor notes, and pinot noir has an answer for all. Its red fruit—berry, cherry, pomegranate, and rhubarb—offers acidity (to handle the tomatoes). Medium-bodied, silky pinots also have spice, herbs, loam, and leather.

Baked Ziti (w/ wine pairings)

Words aren’t really that necessary here… If you like pasta, and you like cheese, then you LOVE baked ziti. I mean how can’t you? It’s ooey-gooey cheesy deliciousness. And you can do so much with it. Vegetables, various meats, even play around with the cheeses… but I like to keep mine pretty simple. Pasta, cheese, herbs and a little sauce. Done.

So without further ado, here is my Baked Ziti recipe!

1lb Dry Pasta, ziti or rigatoni
1lb Block Mozzarella, cubed
2lb Whole Milk Ricotta
2 Large Eggs
1c Grated Parmesan, two 1/2c portions
2tsp Salt + more for your pasta water
2tsp Ground Black Pepper
2tsp Garlic Powder
1c Fresh Basil, chopped
1c Fresh Parsley, chopped
2c Marinara Sauce
8oz Shredded Mozzarella to top

It really doesn’t get much easier than this…

Boil your dry pasta in well salted water for two minutes less than specified on the packaging. In a large bowl combine the pasta, cubed mozzarella, ricotta, eggs, 1/2c grated parmesan, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, basil, parsley and marinara sauce, make sure it’s mixed well. Pour the mixture into a deep 9吉 baking dish, then top evenly with the remaining 1/2c grated parmesan and the 8oz of shredded mozzarella. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350F, then increase the heat to 375F and bake for an additional 20 minutes to lightly brown the top. Allow to cool at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Now let’s talk wine… Truthfully, with something as simple and traditional as this I tend to keep my wine pairings pretty simple. Obviously you have to go Italian, but don’t feel the need to break the bank. Think medium to full bodied reds. If you want to really do it the right way stick with wines from Southern Italy or Sicily, as that’s where Ziti al Forno (baked ziti) was originated. Here are a few wines that I would recommend.

Tratturi Primitivo di Salento, Puglia, Italy – Primitivo is said to be the grandfather of Zinfandel. As a varietal it tends to be relatively bright and no-nonsense, and that is certainly the case with Tratturi. The wine is medium bodied with a very friendly fruit forward opening, and a slightly spicy mid palate and finish. There is not much to be said about Tratturi, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. This is one of those wines that you don’t feel the need to sit around and analyze, you just drink it, and usually lots of it! It is the ideal pizza and pasta wine. One thing to note, at this time this wine is only available in New York and New Jersey, so for those outside you’ll have to order online. There are a number of online retailers currently selling the wine, so it’s not going to be a hunt. PP Score: 88 (Retail $8-11)

Musto Carmelitano Maschitano Rosso, Basilicata, Italy – The Carmelitano family have been making wine (and olive oil) from their estate in the del Vulture region of Basilicata for four generations, but didn’t start bottling under their own name until 2007. The Maschitano Rosso is their entry level offering, made from their younger Aglianico vines, and aged entirely in concrete. The wine is surprisingly approachable for Aglianico, which is naturally a full bodied and tannic varietal that typically needs time in bottle to evolve and gain balance. In the glass is a medium to full bodied wine of dark garnet hue with hints of rust along the edges. The nose has aromas of cherry, plum, dried herbs, pipe tobacco and leather. The palate is quite lively with notes of black cherry, balsamic, and herbs, along with subtle nuances of lardon and smoke, all framed by moderate tannins and surprisingly bright acidity. This is a wonderful introduction to the varietal, and an unbelievable wine for the price. Only 1,000 cases were produced, so you may have to have your fingers do the walking on the internet to find this one… PP Score: 89 (Retail $13-16) *Certified Organic

Valle dell’Acate Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Sicily, Italy – Valle dell’Acate is one of most storied estates in Sicily, having been established by the Jocono family in the 19th century. They have 110 hectares of land, half of which is devoted to vineyard, the other half is a world class blood orange orchard… Probably not surprising that a number of their wines have subtle orange notes! Their Cerasuolo is a blend of 70% Nero d’Avola and 30% Frappato. Nero’s tend to be big, dark, brooding uber masculine wines while Frappato is a very soft, bright and delicate varietal (think Gamay), so when you blend the two the end result is a medium to full bodied wine with surprising depth and complexity. You’ll find notes of both black cherry as well as a hint of maraschino, blueberry, orange zest, black pepper and subtle oak, along with refreshing acidity in the opening and mid palate, and firm tannins in the long lingering finish. This wine is truly gorgeous. It can be consumed now, or laid down for up to five years. PP Score: 91 (Retail $20-25) *Practicing Organic

So there you have it, my comforting and delicious recipe for baked ziti and some amazing, yet purse friendly, wines from Southern Italy to pair with it. I hope you will try it and I KNOW if you do you’ll love it! Some new recipes are en route soon, in the meantime crack open a delicious Italian red, sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it.

The Best Wine for Pasta Is.

If pasta is the movie, then Sangiovese is the soundtrack. I could eat spaghetti without it, but why would I? That’s like watching a Fellini film on mute when Nino Rota’s score is what illuminates it, intensifies it, and makes you feel like you’re living in an Italian dream. Sangiovese does the same thing.

Sangiovese (San-Gee-Oh-Vay-Say) is Italy’s iconic and widely planted grape, and even if you don’t think you’ve had a Sangiovese before, you have. Not only is it a part of many Italian red blends, it goes by so many different names that there is a joke that if you don’t know what Italian wine you’re drinking, it’s probably Sangiovese. Brunello di Montalcino? That’s Sangiovese. Rosso di Montepulciano? Yep, Sangiovese. But you love Chianti? HA! THAT’S SANGIOVESE! Or at least 80% of it is made of it by law in the region of Chianti.

You know what would go well with this Pasta alla Gricia, right? Photo: Marcus Nilsson

Like a red-checkered tablecloth, Sangiovese goes with pasta perfectly. (But also like that tablecloth, it goes well with nearly all foods.) Its high-acidity tempers sweet tomatoes, its savory flavor brings out the best in basil and mushrooms, and its fuzzy tannins compliment meatballs and sausages so much you’d think they were on a second date. And if you’re like, “But I’m making Cacio e Pepe, sooo. ” So what? A light-bodied Sangiovese will still work because of its acidity against the richness of the dish, and could very well be a more interesting pairing than a full-bodied white wine that has the same textural creaminess as your sauce. Plus, it’s just delicious, and who is really that concerned about “perfect” pairings when your significant other for the evening is your favorite pair of sweatpants? Not me.

The grape itself is an opportunist, thankfully not in the leeching Los Angeles “actor/model/writer/DJ” who always needs a favor way but in an adaptable, down for whatever the winemaker is into way. This versatility means that there are plenty of Sangiovese options out there for everyone, ranging from lighter and fruit-forward that work with sauces like tomato basil cream, to bold and tannic that work with bigger sauces like Bolognese. As with most European-made wines, they don’t have any flashy stickers or anything to let you know, so it’s always best to chat with your local wine merchant about what style of Sangiovese you’re looking for. Hopefully, it’s in a fiasco bottle—those delightfully basket-woven Chianti bottles that were woefully relegated to the catacombs of cheap Little Italy scams and themed restaurants. It's time to welcome them back.

My personal favorite is Monte Bernardi’s Chianti Classico. It’s a liter and it’s $16.99 ideal considering the only thing better than sharing a big bowl of pasta is sharing it over a big bottle of wine. Monte Bernardi’s Chianti Classico is light enough for sauce-stirring aperitif-ing, but its bright strawberry and dried cherry notes dipped in peppery-clove spice will keep you pouring it all through primi.

Stocking your house with your favorite Sangiovese makes even the most impromptu pasta nights feel like you’ve been planning them for weeks. And the best part is, you get to skip wandering around the wine shop praying you find a wine that works because you already have it. It’s the easiest way to make a Tuesday night scramble to pull together bucatini all’amatriciana taste like la dolce vita.

The Best Cheap Trader Joe’s Wines to Drink With Italian Food

Ariel asked me to pick out a few budget-friendly wines from Trader Joe’s for her Friday Board Game Night Gathering, where she planned on serving easy, make-ahead Italian food. I was excited for an excuse to visit Denver’s newly opened Trader Joe’s for the first time. Rumors of lines that wrapped around the building and parking up to three blocks away had kept me from venturing into the new store. Turns out, the rumors were true. I can definitely say, however, that the wine discoveries I made were well worth my wait.

The Assignment

After gathering three friends within the wine industry and filling them in on the menu, we hit the shelves. We collectively ventured into the Italian wine section however, a great Spanish Tempranillo also made the cut. We uncorked 15 different wines and narrowed the standouts down to three bottles that are food-friendly and versatile for almost any Italian preparation. These three wines paired perfectly with the Fiery Kale Salad and Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups on Ariel’s table.

How to Choose a Budget Wine

What do I look for when choosing budget wines? There is really no way to judge a bottle’s quality at this price point without experimentation or research. We opted to experiment and taste multiple bottles, which is rather easy to do at TJ’s. If you make a mistake, it won’t be devastating to your wallet.

Although many of the wines we tried were out of balance, I was pleasantly surprised to find several delicious and enjoyable wines at this price point.

We Tried The Baked Feta Pasta Trend From TikTok

When we saw the creamy TikTok-famous Baked Feta Pasta recipe making its way around the internet, we had to try it ourselves &mdash and we used the recipe that made it famous on TikTok in the first place, from Grilled Cheese Social. MacKenzie from Grilled Cheese Social first got the recipe idea from a Finnish food artist in 2019 and eventually decided she had to bring the trend to the States. (We're so glad she did!)

So what did our culinary team member Kate Bennert think? Is it really THAT good? YEP.

"My favorite part about this trendy recipe is that I didn&rsquot have to do anything! I didn't have to chop anything I didn't have to babysit anything on the stove, and I barely had to clean anything. (And let's be real, I just left the pan in the sink "to soak.") I didn't even have to get out a knife! Usually, I tend to avoid these things because &mdash as a professional cook &mdash I do believe good food does involve some work. But let me tell you, it sure is nice to have a day off from the work part and still be able to enjoy something homemade and delicious. This recipe does it for me." &ndashKate

Pro tip: Be sure to pay attention to what kind of feta you choose for this recipe. I used a feta packaged in brine (so that it didn't dry out too much in the oven) and I tasted it before I seasoned the rest of my ingredients so as not to end up with a way-too-salty dinner.

What Is Pasta?

Pasta is the central pillar of Italian cuisine and a part of everyday meals as well as special occasion dinners. Although it’s rich in calories, it’s considered light and healthy.

Pasta is made from durum wheat flour, water, and eggs. There are more than 200 forms and shapes around. The most popular among them are Spaghettis which are long, thin strands. Other well-known shapes are:

  • Fettucini: Less long and much wider than Spaghetti.
  • Fusilli: Short and thick spirals that might remind you of a corkscrew.
  • Lasagna Sheets: Thin, rectangular sheets of pasta that are large enough to fill a casserole.
  • Penne: Small, cylindrical, and hollow noodles, often used in salads.
  • Macaroni: Small, hollow, and -in many cases- curved tubes.

Besides traditional wheat pasta, you can also find newer types produced from other ingredients. Gnocchi, for instance, are made from potatoes. And you can also find many vegan variations made from lentils, peas, or other vegetables.

The History of Pasta

Pasta has been the backbone of Italian cuisine for centuries. Its origin is controversial, though.

Some people argue that the Romans already knew pasta during Augustus’s reign in the 1st century BC. One witness for this claim is the famous poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus who mentioned a meal called “Lagana” in his records. Historians believe that this dish made from fried layers of dough was an early version of modern lasagna.

Another myth credits Marco Polo for the discovery of pasta during his journey to China in the 13th century. In his diaries, he noted a tree that the locals harvested to produce pasta-like foods. Proponents of this theory interpreted this observation as evidence for the Asian origin of Italian pasta.

No matter the origin, pasta quickly became popular in Italy. The production of dried pasta in the 1400s contributed massively to its upcoming because it was much easier to store. Another critical factor was the invention of pasta machines in the 17th century.

In the following centuries, traders and migrants made pasta famous in other parts of Europe and in America. Today, it’s one of the world’s most popular and most versatile food items.

The Best Wines to Pair with Fish, Pasta, and Cheesecake for Shavuot!

While the official "chag ha&rsquoaviv," the holiday of spring, is Passover, it is actually Shavuot that usually occurs at the peak of the spring season (at least, from a Northern Hemisphere perspective). While many, if not most people, serve at least one fleishig meal over Yom Tov, the well-known custom is to highlight dairy and lighter dishes such as pasta, quiches, fish, salads, and, of course, cheesecake! It so happens that white, rosé, sparkling, and dessert wines are best suited to accompany such delicacies. These wines are also served chilled, which is quite welcome considering the milder, sometimes even hot temperatures this time of year, depending on where you reside. Let's take a look at some of my favorites.

Rosé Wines + Salads and Light Snacks

Rosé wines are the ultimate spring and summer quaffers. They are often enjoyed outdoors, ice-cold, and typically do not commend much reflection. Their purpose is simple: casual enjoyment. Most rosé wines do not have a long shelf life, and it is my usual recommendation to drink them within six to 12 months from release. I suggest enjoying rosé with salads or light snacks at the beginning of a meal, or on its own -- perhaps while learning on the night of Shavuot as it will be refreshing without taking one&rsquos mind away from the sugiya. Château Roubine Premium Cru Classé 2020 is arguably one of the finest rosé wines available. It has a very pale pink hue with notes of cherries, fresh strawberries, and peach and plenty of balancing acidity. Drinking a rosé wine, as relaxing as it is, does not mean you should compromise on the quality. With Château Roubine you have a well-crafted wine made by one of the best producers of rosé wines in Provence.

White Wines + Fish and Cheesecake

Moving on to the whites, Spain has a lot more to offer beyond the reds, such as the fantastic blends from Priorat and Monsant or the great Tempranillo wines from the Rioja region. Elvi Wines has been making the Herenza White for over 10 years now, and it is one of the finest kosher white wines out there. It is a blend of the indigenous Pansa Blanca variety complemented by the well-known Sauvignon Blanc and aged in stainless steel tanks. Aside from its quality, uniqueness, and complexity, the Elvi Herenza White 2018 remains very reasonably priced. This is a wine I would drink with delicate dishes such as gravlax, but also, for instance, with a richer cod fish and chips.

I have written multiple times about Riesling wines, especially the delicious, semi-dry Pacifica Riesling. Riesling has a &ldquosibling&rdquo which has recently become popular: Gewürztraminer. They both grow remarkably well in Germany and Alsace in France. Still, one can find some excellent options from California and Israel, as well. Jezreel Valley Winery in Israel has made a name for itself with its red wines based on grape varieties such as Argaman and Carignan, reflecting the Israeli terroir and climate more than Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Chardonnay for the whites. While Israel has a very different landscape and a hotter, drier climate than Germany, Gewürztraminer seems to have adapted well. The Jezreel Gewürztraminer 2019 features some remarkable aromatics of lychee, pineapple, citrus blossom, and apricot. It is semi-dry, along with balancing acidity with some great pairing options, from spicy tuna poke bowl to cheesecake.

Red Wines + Pasta and Cheesecake

Despite my affinity for and continuous advocacy of white wine, I acknowledge that some fish and even pasta dishes are better paired with red wines than with whites. For example, a pepper-crusted red tuna steak or baked salmon filet will be significantly elevated by a glass of ethereal, elegant, and refined Herzog Special Reserve Pinot Noir Edna Valley 2019. While truly delightful now, this is a wine that can gain a lot from proper aging over the coming 10 years or so. Pasta dishes are popular on Shavuot, and whether you choose to make a cheese lasagna or spaghetti Bolognese, the juicy, savory, earthy Terra di Seta Chianti Classico 2019 will help make your Shavuot meal truly unforgettable! The Château de Rayne Vigneau Sauternes 2018 can be enjoyed on its own or with dessert. It shows incredible depth with layers of marzipan, mango chutney, dried apricots, vanilla, and kumquat jelly, coupled with slightly spicy ginger notes and mouth-watering acidity, keeping it from the sin of being too sweet. It will, however, be a fantastic companion to a traditional New York cheesecake or an apple cobbler.

Pasta and Wine: 14 Perfect Pairs

Luckily, you don't have to be a sommelier to pick the perfect wine for your pasta feast. Stick to these delicious pairings compiled by the experts at Food & Wine magazine.

Wine pairing: Dolcetto: 2007 Poderi Luigi Einaudi Dolcetto di Dogliani

This medium-bodied, slightly tangy Italian wine is excellent with acidic tomato sauce.

Wine pairing: Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige: 2007 Brigl Sielo Blu

A simple, lively white will cut through the pesto's richness and complement its herbal and nutty flavors.

Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: 2008 Cupcake Vineyards

A forcefully acidic white wine will balance this sauce's considerable richness. Plus, Sauvignon Blanc's grassy, green flavors go well with asparagus (which makes many wines taste unpleasantly vegetal).

Wine pairing: Valpolicella: 2007 Allegrini

This uncooked tomato-and-herb based sauce demands a red that won't quash its light, zippy flavors. Cherry-scented Valpolicella, with its lively acidity, fits the bill.

Wine pairing: Rich Sangiovese-based wine, like a Rosso di Montalcino: 2006 Il Poggione

The sauce's cooked tomatoes suggest a red with some zing, and the meat demands one with some heft. A Sangiovese &mdash one that leans toward the richer end of the scale &mdash is a good choice.

Wine pairing: Brunello di Montalcino: 2005 Terra Rossa

Brunello, a Tuscan wine made from Sangiovese, has both the acidity to match the tangy tomato sauce and the richness to complement the veal, pork, and beef meatballs.

Wine pairing: Pinot Gris: 2007 RoxyAnn

With its creamy texture and lively, citrusy flavors, Pinot Gris can accommodate both rich cream sauces and delicate seafood.

Wine pairing: Valpolicella Classico: 2007 Allegrini

A light, fruity, and very crisp Italian red will cut the sauce's creaminess and refresh the palate.

Wine pairing: Barolo: 2005 Massolino

Barolo is a classic match for mushrooms and will also pair well with the lamb sausage.

Wine pairing: Fruity Sicilian rosé: 2008 Planeta

Reds often clash with fish, but a rosé will pair nicely. A chilled, fruity wine is a good choice for a spicy dish.

Wine pairing: Ribolla Gialla: 2007 Dorigo

This Friulian white has a a crisp floral character that works well with the dish's tangy goat cheese.

Wine pairing: Chianti Classico: 2006 Antinori Pèppoli

Chianti Classico is a classic partner for tomato sauces, plus it has the richness to stand up to this cheesy baked pasta.

Wine pairing: Kabinett Riesling: 2007 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Ürziger Würzgarten

A little bit of sweetness in the wine will balance the Asian spices here.

Wine pairing: Pinot Noir: 2007 Wild Earth Central Otago

This dish's tangy olives, bright tomatoes, and rustic whole wheat pasta make it a great match with a fragrant, earthy Pinot Noir.

Other Go-To White Wines for Lobster

While Chardonnay affords lobster a classic, go-to pairing. There are other white wines that will wow with their affinity for lobster-themed recipes. The spicy, intense aromatics of Gewurztraminer play exceptionally well with broiled lobster. The straightforward, citrusy, just-say-summer simplicity of Pinot Grigio provides a food-friendly backdrop to lemon-laden lobster, not mention the fresh squeeze of acidity that functions like a twist of lemon on lobster.

The Loire Valley's Viognier makes a remarkable match with lobster that's seen a bit of curry or Asian spice—the slight sweetness of the wine tames the heat of the spice and highlights the sweeter side of the lobster meat as well. If you are looking for a savory lobster and wine pairing that is heavily influenced by cream or butter-based sauces and you're looking to go beyond the classic styles of Chardonnay, then reach for the butter-busting bubbles of Champagne or sparkling wine with solid, food-friendly acidity.

In general, the rich impressions that lobster brings both in terms of mouthfeel and culinary expectations demand a wine that can go the distance in food-pairing versatility, while maintaining the body weight and palate presence to bring out the best in a variety of lobster-inspired recipes. There are a handful of wines that can pull off a lobster pairing well, but by many standards, ​there may not be a better choice than the widely planted, international grape of Chardonnay.

Sweet Dishes, Such as Pancakes or French Toast

One important principle of wine pairing is that sweet dishes need a wine that is equal in sweetness, or even slightly sweeter. The reason for this is that a sweet dish, like our Oven-Baked Blueberry Pancakes, can easily make a dry wine taste bitter. Moscato d&aposAsti is a sweet, lightly effervescent Italian wine that has aromas of honeysuckle and fragrant blossoms, and flavors of juicy white peach and apricot. It&aposs a wonderful alternative to prosecco if you like a little sparkle in your glass. One reason it&aposs so wonderful with brunch is that it has a naturally low alcohol content—you can enjoy a glass without feeling sleepy (or tipsy) for the rest of the afternoon.