When you get into the various micro-niches of wine styles and situations, beyond the great twenty dollar bottle of red or the best pairing for a burger, I have to believe there is a such a thing as the perfect inexpensive bottle of Italian red wine to drink both while you’re cooking and while you’re eating a simple pasta on the average weeknight. Not only do I believe that’s a thing, I think it’s a style of wine that must be in pretty high demand given the fact that everyone loves pasta and there’s nothing better than standing there in your kitchen after a long day at work, popping that bottle open, and pouring yourself that first glass while you wait for the water to boil. That was me last night, propped up next to the stove, sipping a glass of the new 2014 Tomaresca "Neprica" from Puglia while dropping the bag of spaghetti into the raging sea of salt water.
There are a number of great inexpensive red wines from all over the world that pair well with pasta, but for me it always feels better to keep things in the family. I like French reds with French bistro food. I like California Zinfandel with my burgers. I like an ice cold bottle of Modelo with my tacos. There's something right about the slightly-tannic, robust, and spiciness of a classic Italian red coupled with the smell of a simmering sauce. The Neprica is from Puglia, the heel in Italy's boot and an expanse of old farmlands that date back centuries. Negroamaro, the principle varietal in the Tomaresca blend, is the region's most important grape, one that adds weight and structure to the wine in this case. The blend is balanced by a healthy dose of Primitivo (think Zinfandel from Italy) and Cabernet Sauvignon that add fruit and additional richness to that tannic frame. At $10 a bottle, this wine covers all the bases for what I'm looking for on a Tuesday night. It has that real Italian character—tannins, acidity, and grip—with dark fruit flavors and plenty of spice, making me feel like I'm drinking something far more profound than an everyday bargain bottle. Made by Antinori, one of Italy's best and most respected producers, it has freshness and drive along with a reasonable 13% ABV level.
I definitely enjoyed it with my pasta, but I took down a sizable portion of the bottle long before I took my first bite.