If you've picked up some of Trader Joe's Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce, you might also want to grab a bottle of the 2021 Still Bend Barbera Lodi California, says Catherine Fallis, master sommelier at Bright Cellars in a press release sent to Tasting Table. The wine has a "richer and riper" profile compared to classic Italian iterations of Barbera. Yet it is still subtle enough not to obscure the delicate flavors of the sauce.
A California-produced version of one of the classic wines of Italy may seem like an odd choice for a creamy sauce featuring softly sweet pumpkin, butternut squash, and carrots, as well as earthy, assertive sage and rosemary. But Barbera is a wine considered to be perfectly matched to tomatoes, garlic, and briny olives, the latter two of which Trader Joe's sauce features.
Also, consider some of the other examples of what Barbera pairs with -- rich charcuterie, grilled and braised joints of meat, gamy duck, sausages, stews, and more. The Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce may be vegetarian, but it is no shrinking violet in terms of flavor and weight, with a creamy mouthfeel that coats the tongue with strong herbaceousness and winter squash sweetness. Barbera provides a perfect contrast on the palate.
Many Americans may not be as familiar with Barbera as they are with Sangiovese, the dominant grape variety in what is likely the best-known Italian wine, Chianti. Even in the region where it is grown -- Northern Italy's Piedmont region -- Barbera doesn't garner the respect that some of its fellow grapes, such as Nebbiolo, do. But that doesn't mean it lacks the qualities of an imminently drinkable and food-friendly wine. Barbera is enjoyable — and accessible — meaning it has long been on dining tables.
Barbera presents itself as a bit confusing to some wine enthusiasts. Its color is inky and dark owing to the profoundly purple skin the grape possesses. But Barbera's nose and taste belie that color. For Italian versions, dark fruits, such as blackberry and boysenberry, jump out along with spice notes, and with high acidity and low tannins, the wine goes down almost juicy. New World bottles are, as Fallis describes, more intense in their fruitiness and body, with brighter fruits such as cherry and raspberry at the forefront, followed by floral hints and bits of minerality present.
While Fallis' pairing recommendation is based on Trader Joe's Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce alone, that doesn't mean that it can't be augmented and is still a terrific match for the Still Bend Barbera. Consider the addition of a cheesy, stuffed pasta, like tortellini, for a bit more body, or some grilled or braised meat that will stand up to the acid of the wine.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.