Wine Pairings for Farfalle all’Arrabbiata (Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Wine Pairings for Farfalle all’Arrabbiata

Rosso: Fià Nobile Frappato or Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Cantine Farro’s Campi Flegri Piedirosso

Arrabbiata basically means angry. Luckily, wine cures most everything and it can even find peace with this feisty and spicy sauce. It is important to consider the alcohol level of a wine when picking vino for dishes that tout spice-driven heat. Alcohol emphasizes the burn; I’d look for something 13% or less. The same goes for tannins. Stray away from them. Finally, I’d pick a wine without obvious oakiness…as frequent readers know I often do for Sunday Pasta!

My choices this week hail from the south and, more specifically, from Sicily and Campania. Sicily’s Fià Nobile Frappato or Cerasuolo di Vittoria work perfectly. Both are rather pale in color – typical of these styles of wine. Frappato is a local variety that is very medium-bodied and aromatic. These two examples allow you to see the variety shine on its own or blended with Nero d’Avola in the Cerasuolo. Both wines offer exuberant red berry fruit framed by rather gentle tannins that blend well with the tomato-driven sauce. The same goes for Cantine Farro’s Campi Flegri Piedirosso, a very hip bottling from another indigenous grape. This southern variety is also called Per’e Palummo. This mouthful of a nickname means “dove’s foot,” referencing the pink-red color of the grape’s stem. Like the other two reds, this vino is generous in its red fruit aromatics, however its tannins show a bit more oomph…enough to add more structure but not so much that they exaggerate the spice.

I hope you master the details of pairing spice and red wine. It’s pretty easy as long as you follow just a few principles.

Check out our recipe for Farfalle a’ll Arrabbiata!

Cin cin!
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)
Wine Editor

2 thoughts on “Wine Pairings for Farfalle all’Arrabbiata (Spicy Tomato Sauce)”

  1. Your pairings are pretty much useless for most people. Your average person has no idea knowledge about a wine like Sicily’s Fià Nobile Frappato or Cerasuolo di Vittoria. And most likely they have no access to such a wine. How about including generic wine pairings alongside your more detailed recommendations, such as chianti or chardonnay or zinfandel. Recommendations like that will reach far more people.

    • Hi Ken, the pairings were done by a Master of Wines, one of the handful in the US. She purposefully tried to make each pairing a more sophisticated conversation than, “Buy a Chianti.” That said, when I created the Sunday Pasta cookbook, I reduced each pairing to 5 lines, with commonly found grapes. My goal is to do the same here on the website: leave the detailed pairing for those who want it, but to also create a much shorter/simpler pairing for those on the go. Thanks for writing. Ed


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