My wife craves black pasta: an Italian specialty dyed dark with squid ink. Coastal Italians call it “pasta al nero di sepia”: black squid pasta. Instead of mixing it with seafood, she wants it simple. So I clash cultures by browning it in butter and shaving Greek Mizithra cheese atop (Spaghetti Factory frequenters will sympathize).
But what wine will work?
Mizithra is mild sheep cheese. Squid ink pasta tastes like, well, pasta with a slight brine note. Big reds and aromatic whites will overwhelm it. An Alsatian Pinot Gris or Blanc? A coastal Albarino? Maybe a zippy Picpoul de Pinet? Or a fizzy Cava or Brut Prosecco?
Sunny days persist. It may be September, but I want to continue to live the lie that Summer remains. And nothing says languishing seaside, basking in sunshine, watching passers go by, quite like French rosé.
But Provence rosé is too fat, mellow, too silken for this. I want a slight edge. So I go for salmon-colored Sancerre. My earth-friendly, biodynamic choice is Pascal Jolivet’s 2015 Sancerre Rosé (under $20):
First, cold wine cleanses and contrasts the dish’s heat. The pasta’s slight savory, dark, mineral nature plays off of this Pinot Noir pink beautifully. The wine’s light strawberry and rhubarb notes wink back at the pasta’s blackness. The browned butter melds with the rosé’s silken texture and feather of residual sugar. But the dry, powdery texture and light lemon of the Mizithra matches the rosé’s tart acidity and whiff of chalk minerality and texture.
They should put this pairing on a Euro. Italy, Greece, France, and (let’s pretend the butter is from) Germany somehow work together amazingly. The day’s heat washes away. The Darkside has a love child with the Jedi. I digress…
Experimenting in the kitchen need not be complicated to amaze. And when in doubt about wine, try rosé.