Antonio Gianola, the former wine director at Catalan in Houston, will open his own wine bar, Wild Vine, this spring, focusing on super-traditional European wines. One of his favorites is the R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva rosé from the Rioja region of Spain, aged for years in oak barrels. Even the 2000 vintageancient for a roséis still lively enough for charred octopus with silky roasted peppers. Inspired by a recipe in Wine Bar Food by Tony and Cathy Mantuano, Gianola poaches the octopus slowly before grilling it until crisp.
Pairing: Aged rosé from Spain's Rioja region: 2000 R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva.
In his gorgeous In.gredienti cookbook, Massimiliano Alajmo includes a dish called "pasta butter and smoke," made with smoked pasta and smoked butter and served with smoked hen broth. In this much-simplified version, the smoky flavor is all in the butter; it's mixed with cheese and chopped fresh herbs to make a rich sauce for silky pappardelle.
Pairing: Floral, medium-bodied Italian white: 2009 Santadi Villa Solais Vermentino.