For this dinner, I got to put my pasta making skills to use! After freshman year of college I studied abroad in Arezzo, Italy and learned how to make pasta from scratch. I loved getting to prepare this meal! I made pasta with marinara sauce with an Italian salad on the side, with prosciutto and parmesan crackers, cherry tomato, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar bites, and grapes for appetizers. For wine pairings, I went for three very different tastes to see what I liked the most — Moscato, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Willamette Valley Vineyards – Pinot Gris – Willamette Valley, Oregon – 2015 – $12.99
Critic Review: Almond, green apple, and honey suckle appear on the palate and are balanced by a crisp acidity. A long, creamy finish tinged with hints of lemon makes this the perfect pairing with seafood and salads.
Excelsior – Cabernet Sauvignon – Ashton, South Africa – 2016 – $9.99
Critic Review: This delicious, crowd pleasing Cabernet delivers serious bang for the buck! It exhibits ripe blackcurrant and dried herb characters on the nose, which are backed up with some spicy oak notes. The palate is smooth and soft, with beautiful ripe tannins and a long finish.
Yellow Tail – Moscato – Yenda, Australia – 2016 – $7.99
Critic Review: This [yellow tail] Moscato is everything a great wine should be – zingy, refreshing and easy to drink. With passionfruit and melon flavors, it is enjoyed chilled on its own or with spicy Asian-inspired food.
The Yellow Tail Moscato is a very sweet wine, which I usually tend to stray away from. However, I loved the tangy melon taste that I got from this wine and actually really enjoyed drinking it on its own. When paired with the meal, it tasted the best with the grapes and with the salad. The salad dressing was pretty acidic, so it almost brought the wine’s acidity out TOO much. However, it was far too sweet for the caprese appetizer and pasta dish. I think the sauce was too dark for this sweet of a wine, so I tried it with the drier white wine: Pinot Gris. The Willamette Valley Pinot Gris was better than the Moscato with the pasta dish, but I still felt like something was a little strange while I was eating it. I know that red wines are traditionally served with red sauces, so that was always in the back of my mind when tasting it with the white wines. But this wine was absolutely delicious with the salad. This wine was much softer than the Moscato and not so shockingly sweet. There was still a lemon acidity to it, but it did not take away from the flavor of the food like the Moscato did. The Pinot Gris was also tasty with the salty prosciutto and parmesan crackers, because the creaminess of the finish paired well with the super fatty and salty flavors. I liked this wine, and I look forward to trying it with other foods! Finally, the Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon was absolutely delicious with this dinner. It was just the right balance of tannic and sweet to fit right in with all the foods. This is the wine that I drank the most of during my meal, and probably the wine I would choose to have with similar meals in the future. This Cabernet Sauvignon was quite herby, which is something I was not necessarily expecting. The typical blackcurrant flavor was absolutely present and really made this wine full and flavorful with the meal. The back of the bottle even notes that this wine pairs well with red meats and rich pasta dishes, which is why I selected it instead of other red wines that I have around the house! Notably, the Cabernet Sauvignon was very smooth despite the high tannins, which made it easy to eat with the creaminess of the red sauce I used for the pasta. I cannot say enough good things about this meal and look forward to preparing it again one day soon!