February 13, 2013
Apologies that the coming reference is a fly-by for anyone without gray hair, but the sweetest on-screen kiss of all time is the one between Lady and her Tramp at Tony's Restaurant, when their lips meet in a slurp of a shared strand of spaghetti.
Their wine? A flask of Chianti. They and Tony knew that the best match for "red sauce Italian" is any red, preferably Italian of course, low in tannin and high in acidity. When we cook tomatoes down into a sauce, we forget how tartly acidic they natively are; their best wine match needs acidity too.
The food: Rigatoni with tomato-ricotta sauce
Cook 1/2 pound rigatoni in a stockpot of boiling salted water. Meanwhile, place 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, and 1 onion, diced, on a baking sheet; drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Broil until tomatoes have softened and onions are golden, 3-5 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Stir the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, into 1 cup ricotta until creamy. Toss pasta with tomato-onion mixture in a large bowl. Add ricotta and 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, stirring just to combine. Toss with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Makes: 4 servings
2010 Poliziano Morellino di Scansano Lohsa, Tuscany, Italy: A lot of flavor for the fare, especially of dark red fruits and beautiful aroma of wet black earth; crisply finishing, moderately tannic. $15
2010 Brancaia TRE, Tuscany, Italy: A mix of three red grapes, mostly sangiovese, a bit of merlot and cabernet sauvignon; tastes of black cherry and black raspberry, with anise note at finish; big but lively. $25
2007 Tenimenti Angelini Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Simposio, Tuscany, Italy: A difficult vintage renders a complex red; notable acidity, softly tannic, tantalizing persistence. $35
— Bill St. John, special to Tribune Newspapers