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Three-Cheese Pasta & Chianti

This rich pasta would be easy to pair with wine, were it not for its smoky pepper sauce. The not-so-obvious match: a piquant, fruity Italian red.

Perfect Wine Match

Pairing pasta with wine seems simple enough: something red, something Italian. But when the pasta sauce has peppers in it, picking the right Italian red isn't so easy. Sweet peppers can make some wines taste unpleasantly vegetal; hot peppers can bring out bitter, tinny flavors. The 2000 San Quirico Chianti Colli Senesi ($10), however, from the hills northwest of Siena, is one wine that can stand up to the smoky red-pepper sauce in the three-cheese baked pasta recipe here. Its ripe berry- and cherry-fruit notes soften the flavors of the sweet peppers, while its piquancy deepens the smoky spice from the chipotle powder. Another option to consider is the cherry- and anise-accented 2000 Cecchi Chianti Classico ($12), which cools the heat of the ground chipotles while highlighting the earthiness of the sweet peppers.

—Jamal Rayyis

Published November 2002
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