I’m going to make either spaghetti carbonara or paella for a bunch of friends (a.k.a. my “chosen” family) on Family Day weekend. Can you suggest some pairings?
Lucky friends! That sounds like a wonderful gathering. I hope nobody’s fixated on big reds like cabernet sauvignon or shiraz because those wines get along better with steak and roasts. I’m going to suggest some crisper, lighter options.
First, let’s take the carbonara. This is perfect winter comfort food, decadent and filling yet more stylishly European than, say, mac and cheese. It’s a great choice for a dinner party because it’s easy to prep and should give you plenty of time to set the mood by queuing up, say, Real Friends by Kanye West or Never Had a Friend Like Me by Tupac Shakur on Spotify. (Or, if you grew up in the seventies, how about Thank You for Being a Friend by Andrew Gold?)
A pasta made with eggs, pancetta or bacon, and grated pecorino romano or parmesan, it’s creamy even without cream. The ideal wine would possess textural richness but also a crisp spine to cut through the yolk-heavy sauce. I’d suggest unoaked or moderately oaked chardonnay as a top option. This would include white Burgundy, though I would opt for something affordable because the finer nuances in something more expensive will get steamrolled by the sauce. Good alternative choices include many dry Italian whites, such as vermentino, soave, verdicchio and inzolia. If you must go for red, consider light and crispy Beaujolais.
As for paella, a rice dish with seafood and pork or chicken, I’d go pink. Dry rosé is a classic pairing, and Spain produces some of the best bargains. As an alternative, here again I’d suggest a dry white, ideally a Rueda or Rias Baixas, two Spanish appellations that excel in creating nervy, vibrant wines.
May I offer one more? Stick a bottle of prosecco or Champagne in the fridge. Because, as Dionne Warwick and a few famous friends sang, That’s What Friends Are For.
Beppi Crosariol will once again be participating as The Globe’s wine expert on both the July 1-11, 2019, Globe and Mail Seine River (Paris and Normandy) Cruise and the July 28-Aug. 7, 2019, Globe and Mail Portugal River Cruise. For details on how to reserve your cabin visit GlobeandMailCruises.com.