Lighter than its famous big brother Brunello, the vivacious and elegant Rosso di Montalcino is best enjoyed young. Ready to drink just one year following the harvest, it is perfect for those who lack cellar space or patience to age their wines. It pairs well with dishes of medium robustness including Italian pasta and risotto, white and red meat dishes as well as hard cheeses. Its particular affinity for tomato makes it the ideal companion to an uncomplicated plate of spaghetti, but it also pleasantly complements an array of fancier options.
Montalcino wines are made within the municipality of Montalcino in the central Italian region of Tuscany. The Rosso di Montalcino is a red wine made only with sangiovese grapes; it bears a Controlled Designation of Origin classification that guarantees compliance with production standards within a specific geographical region. This wine does not require aging, as it quickly deploys a fresh, dry taste with fruity aromas of black cherry and wild berries, balanced tannins and a good persistence in the mouth. Service temperature is between 61 and 64 F.
This harmonious wine makes a pleasant accompaniment for a wide variety of dishes, but it is widely used with pasta in tomato- and meat-based sauces. Its high acidity and moderate tannins are a perfect match for the tomatoes and fat that characterize Italian cuisine, says the “Chicago Tribune.” It suggests pairing a Rosso di Montalcino with penne in pancetta and tomato sauce. “Food & Wine” concurs with a recipe of perciatelli or bucatini pasta in ground beef, wine and tomato sauce enhanced by Fontina and Parmesan cheeses.
Rosso di Montalcino can also be served with composite dishes. Risottos would be a perfect example, combining meaty mushrooms or pungent truffles — the iconic “white gold” of Northern Italy — rounded off with sharp, hard cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino Romano. Main courses of poultry, pork or veal in sauce are other suitable options. The Wine Navigator goes a step further and also recommends pairing Rosso di Montalcino with stronger-tasting meats such as lamb or game stews.
The New York Times Wine Club, on the other hand, says that the Rosso di Montalcino is at its best with grilled meats like steak, pork or lamb. Olive oil and dried herbs make good seasonings, while fresh, roasted, stewed or sun-dried tomatoes are excellent accompaniments. It also notes that this wine pairs beautifully with vegetables including bell pepper, eggplant, fennel and mushrooms, which all work well on their own or as barbecue side dishes.
References and ResourcesConsortium of the Brunello di Montalcino Wine: Rosso di Montalcino D.O.C.
Winesearcher.com: Rosso di Montalcino Wine
Chicago Tribune: Wines With Pancetta
Food & Wine: Perciatelli With Meat Sauce and Fontina
The New York Times Wine Club: La Rasina Rosso di Montalcino
Wine Navigator Online: Rosso di Montalcino
ResourcesFood And Wine Pairing: Guidelines
Food & Wine: 15 Rules for Great Wine and Food Pairings