Confession: I am in love with Bolognese sauce. I don’t really think that needs to be a confession, it is more of a proclamation. Of love. Yes its that bad. I’m not really even sure of the first time I had it, or the “aha!” moment I had when I decided I love it, but I just know that if I’m at a restaurant and its on the menu, no other dish stands a chance.
What makes bolognese sauce so good anyway? When I made this recipe that I’m about to share with you, it all came back. For me, its the ground beef. So simple and familiar, but in this sauce it is turned into a celebrity. And the tomatoes. I bought special Italian canned tomatoes, and it really made the dish. So flavorful, my mouth is watering while I write this.
Now, lets talk about Barbera…have you ever even heard of this grape varietal? Its not too popular with us Americans, but grows really well in Amador County, California. I recently went there on a trip (its about an hour south of Sacramento…total gold rush area, very historic) and barbera was all the rage. Amador is known for its zins, but barbera was a refreshing alternative. My friend that went with me quickly decided this was her new favorite grape varietal, and I don’t blame her!
Barbera is a high-acid, relatively light bodied grape indigenous to Italy. It is from Piedmont, a region in northwest Italy that is more famous for its big Barolos and sweet moscato d’asti. Compared to these infinitely better known wines, Barbera is kind of looked over to us Americans, especially since we don’t see them available in the grocery stores or even in liquor stores. As I was looking for a bottle of this at Total Wine, I counted 3 from America and 5 from Piedmont…not too much of a selection in a sea of other Italian wines.
But barbera deserves some recognition—it’s a great little grape, it works hard to produce some incredible flavors, and it is relatively affordable to us consumers! When I said it was high-acid before, that means it makes you salivate after your first sip, making you immediately want more. This makes this wine incredibly good with food, which for purposes of this blog, makes it my friend.
Ohhhh Bolognese sauce. I must admit, before this first attempt, I had never made it before. I was so excited to try this recipe from a pretty legit Italian Cookbook I recently came across, and I cannot believe the outcome after my first try. YUMMMMMMY!
This is a no-brainer pairing. When I first tried the Bolognese sauce, I couldn’t believe how much acidity there was from the Italian tomatoes I used. Every bite I took, my mouth was just salivating for more. See a commonality? I had to match this high-acid dish to a high-acid wine. Mhm. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Beyond that, I can’t really explain much more, you are just going to have to buy a bottle of barbera, find 4 hours out of your day to make this sauce (its completely worth it, I promise), and see for yourself!