I am one of the biggest fans of my Grandpa Jack. I adore him and his passion for food, automobiles and adventure of life. Back in 2000, Grandpa Jack and I took a trip to Modena to visit the Ferrari factory. We also visited a cheese museum and a vinegar museum. It was during that memorable trip that I had my first taste of tortellini in a savory broth.
Since then, the beautiful and delicate tortellini is on our family dinner menu at least once in a couple of weeks, from tortellini in a rich broth to tortellini with sautéed spinach to our favorite – tortellini with Italian sausage. We are very fortunate to live in a town where we can buy fresh pasta and Italian sausage made by our local Italian delicatessen. Here is our version of “Tortellini with Italian Sausage”:
- Our tortellini is filled with spinach and ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Our Italian sausage has fennel and black peppers seasoning. Remove casings and crumble the sausage.
- Olive oil for sautéing
- Sliced shallot
- Fresh baby spinach leaves
- Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated before serving)
- Fresh basil leaves (chiffonade before serving)
- Splash of Galliano
- Pasta water (reserved from tortellini’s pasta water)
Fresh pasta cooks in minutes. We first sautéed the Italian sausage and shallot, deglazed with a splash Galliano, then tossed in the cooked pasta, spinach, some pasta water – add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and the chiffonade basil leaves – our weeknight supper is ready in minutes!
Here are our wine pairings to “Tortellini with Italian Sausage”:
- Nouveau style of red Zinfandel with notes of sweet berry, anise and peppers.
- Sangiovese with notes of black cherry and balanced levels of tannin.
So, do we have the right pairings for our version of “Tortellini with Italian Sausage”?
- Our Italian sausage has flavors predominately of fennel and coarse ground black peppers. The Nouveau style of red Zinfandel is young and flavorful – its fruit notes pairs well with the sausage.
- Our Tortellini is the co-star in this entrée and the medium body of the red Zinfandel pairs well with the weight and texture of the pasta. The taste and weight of Zinfandel varied based on how ripe the grapes were when it was bottled. We like the red Zinfandel that are juicy, fruity and peppery from the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma, and from the Amador Valley in California.
- Sangiovese from Italy or Sonoma also pairs well with Tortellini and sausage. The wine’s medium weight pairs well with the body of Tortellini. Sangiovese’s notes of fruits and balanced tannin also goes well with the Italian sausage.
Red Zinfandel and Sangiovese are easy-drinking and flexible – these pairings complement both the Tortellini and Italian sausage in flavor and body weight.
Quick tips about serving red Zinfandel:
- Temperature. Chill the red Zinfandel to bring out the fruit flavor. 60°F – 55°F works the best for this pairing.
- Wine glasses. We find the Chianti wine glasses (view on Amazon) work well with red Zinfandel and Sangiovese. The shape of a Chianti bowl and mouth brings these medium-bodied wines to your mid palette to taste the full flavor of the wines. Check out our blog on types of wine glasses.
We are in the camp of “drink what you like” – we think it’s informative to know about the rules of pairing food and wine – it is fine to break the rules when you know the rules. Go for it if you feel like serving a white burgundy with Italian sausage. When you are sharing a meal (be it a casual weeknight supper or a special occasion feast) with friends and family, you go ahead and drink what you like and enjoy your company.