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Pairing with Primitivo: Authentic Italian meal meets authentic Italian wine

Sera Fina Cellars sits among the Sierra Foothills’ beautiful live oak trees during the day and at night, the sky is brightly-lit with stars that shine down on the vineyards below. In the mid 1800s, Italian immigrants brought grapes to Amador County and as a result, the countryside is planted with Italian varietals, such as Barbera and Primitivo. Sera Fina Cellars—owned and operated by fifth generation Italian winemaker Paul Scotto—sources grapes from Amador County and makes both of these wonderful Italian varietals.

Sera Fina Cellars 2011 Primitivo
Melissa Vogt
Sera Fina Cellars Primitivo Pairing
Melissa Vogt

The Primitivo is closest akin to the American Zinfandel, but predates Zinfandel; its roots trace back to Italy, though its unique flavor profile and body are unlike other Italian wines. However, as with all Italian wine, the 2011 Sera Fina Cellars Primitivo—dark, robust, and full of complexity—is meant to be paired with food. To honor the cultural heritage of winemaker Paul Scotto, it makes sense to showcase the Primitivo alongside an authentic Italian dish. Homemade gnocchi, atop a light marinara sauce with green bell peppers, spicy Italian sausage, and coarse ground black pepper, is the perfect pairing for this hearty wine.

Scotto’s passion for winemaking and cultural heritage shine through in Sera Fina Cellars’ exquisite 2011 Primitivo, which boasts dark blackberry flavors, well bodied texture, and nice tannins. When paired with the homemade gnocchi, the flavors of the dish enhance the complexity of the wine, making it shine even brighter. The fluffy texture of the gnocchi contrasts the rich, full bodied texture of the wine—leaving a nice balance between the synthesis of textures. Additionally, the smooth mouth feel—which is followed by a nice dry finish—is heightened by the acidity in the sauce; this allows the tannins to burst through pleasantly on the palate.

The fresh and pungent basil in the sauce, as well as the fennel in the sausage, pick up on the peppery profile and the subtle anise flavors in the background of the wine. These spices blend well together and give the wine’s blackberry fruit flavors a delicious, herbal backbone with tannins that enliven every taste bud.

Similarly, the acidity of the tomatoes in the sauce mellows out the blackberry flavor of the wine and brings forward a more complex balance between earth and fruit. The sauce's earthiness—due to the green bell peppers, herb-infused sausage, and coarse black pepper—gives the wine a meatier, robust texture and flavor. From beginning to end, this pairing pleases the palate with every bite.

Visit Sera Fina Cellars in Plymouth or stop by Cinque, the family tasting room in Sutter Creek, to recreate this authentic Italian wine and food pairing experience.