Ah lasagne – that go to, feel good food. If ever there was a dinner that you could relax with over a glass of wine, it would be this. But what if you’re not particularly fond of Italian wine? What if you’d much prefer a robust Spanish red instead? Clearly you have good taste, but to know what goes with lasagne, we have to work out which Spanish grapes might taste great with this most Italian of dishes?
What Goes with Lasagne?:
Lasagne has the following flavour characteristics:
- It has chewy beef proteins;
- The melted cheese gives it a lot of oiliness;
- The rich, creamy sauce provides a lot of body, as well as the pasta and red meat;
- The tomato element of the sauce provides some acidity;
- The tomato sauce also gives the dish lots of ‘red’ flavours;
- The fish is cooked in an oven, intensifying the flavours even more;
- It’s often well seasoned, with aromatic Italian herbs as well.
That calls for a wine which has:
- Some tannin, to bond with the proteins and give a feeling of savoury deliciousness;
- Intense, ‘red’ flavours to match the tomato sauce;
Fruit to compliment the spiciness of the seasoning and the herbs, with little to no oak;
- Lots of acidity to cut through the oil droplets and stand up to the acidity in the tomatoes;
- A full body to not be overpowered by the oven cooked, creamy lasagne.
What to Serve with Lasagne:
The most important grape here will be the Cariñena. This is actually the French Carignan grape wearing a luxuriant Spanish moustache, as there aren’t many native Spanish grapes that provide that much acidity. The grape also gives some tannin. Yet the grape will need to be in a blend with another variety that provides more fruit flavour, and something that will give the wine a fuller body too. Happily, Catalonia is great for producing these kinds of mixes.
This bottle blends Cariñena with Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. That gives the blend sufficient acidity, while also taking on lots of cherry flavours from the Grenache. The Cabernet Sauvignon provides much needed body. The Cabernet also provides some black pepper notes and the high alcohol content of 14.5% gives a hint of eucalyptus to the bottle, which goes excellently well with the seasoning. This is a great bottle.
2. Can Blau
This is an even better match than the previous bottle. That’s because as a Crianza or young style of Rioja, it has spent less time ageing in a barrel, which means it will have fewer of the oaky notes that spices can accentuate. You don’t want to be overpowered by the taste of Italian herbs. What’s more, it scored 91 points from Guía Peñín. Again, it’s a Cariñena heavy blend with lots of acidity to battle with the oily, acidic lasagne, and it has plenty of red fruit flavours from the Grenache. But it has a cheeky element of Syrah as well. The latter grape adds body, and a little spiciness too.
This Carignan blend has more Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. It will be fruitier than the other two, and it uses old vines, further intensifying the fruit flavours. Also expect a fuller bodied wine. Guía Peñín gave it 92 points, which means that it’s pretty much guaranteed to be fantastic.
Who’d Have Thought Italian Food and Spanish Wine Would Match?
We did, apparently. We’ve already written on the joys of pairing these two culinary cultures together in ‘Paring Spanish Wine and Italian Food – Seriously’, and it makes sense that these two cultures might produce complementary produce. They’re both Mediterranean. They both enjoy much the same climate, and similar crops grow well in each country. Just remember that Italian food tends to be acidic. So for a good match, look for the Cariñena (a.k.a. Carignan, a.k.a. Mazuelo) grape on the bottle.