Nebbiolo Discovery with Short Ribs & Pasta

We’re trying so many new things today: Nebbiolo, Short Ribs, Homemade Pasta.  Let’s get right to it!

Learning Nebbiolo from American and Italian Sources

Learning Nebbiolo from American and Italian Sources

This winter we’re spending time getting to know wines based on the Nebbiolo grape.  With rare exceptions, Nebbiolo thrives in the Piemonte region of Italy.  There are a few vineyards near Paso Robles in California that possess what it takes to produce quality Nebbiolo-based wines.  We picked up a number of Italian wines and a few from California to explore.  Over the course of several meals, we will be sampling a variety of Nebbiolo-based wines at a variety of price points.

Nebbiolo has a unique flavor profile, offering both high acidity and strong tannins. It’s a very full body wine, typically running 14%+ alcohol level, yet its color is only medium dark and mostly transparent like a Pinot Noir.  The classic description is roses and tar for the aroma and flavor.   From the Nebbiolos we have tried, I can agree with red fruits and an evergreen element, and always plenty of body with acidity and especially tannins.  Did I mention tannins?

A big wine with a modest color

A big wine with a modest color

As you can see from the photo, the Boroli Barolo and the Giornata Nebbiolo are pretty similar in color – a beautiful garnet.  While dark, they are just barely translucent well into the center of the wine.  The photo doesn’t really show the fine difference in color, but the Barolo (a bit older) is tending toward a bit warmer color of red as compared to the younger American wine.

Beautiful in the glass

Beautiful in the glass

The classic pairings with Nebbiolo are braised meats and risotto.  Both are very rich foods, so they naturally pair well with a wine with strong tannins.  I’m a huge dutch oven fan, so braised meat it is.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs
In the winter, our Minnesota farmers’ market will have a monthly session vs. the summertime weekly.  At the Mill City Farmers Market this weekend, we picked up short ribs and fresh eggs from one of our favorite small farmers: Sunshine Harvest Farms.

This recipe is from a book I received for Christmas: All About Braising: the Art of Uncomplicated Cooking by Molly Stevens.  This recipe is available online here.  If you like braised meals, I would highly recommend this book.  Molly has some unique recipes that you won’t find online.  A unique step in this version is marinating the ribs in the red wine braising liquid overnight prior to starting the actual preparation.  This gives the ribs a depth of flavor that wouldn’t be there without the long marinade.

Braising fills the house with wonderful aromas all afternoon.

Braising fills the house with wonderful aromas all afternoon.

Ready to taste?

Ready to taste?

Fresh Homemade Pasta
Our son gave Julie a Mother/Son pasta class at Kitchen Window for Christmas.  They really had fun and came home ready to add fresh homemade pasta to our meals.  I am impressed with the short ingredients list:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 + cup of flour

That’s it! Amazing.  We had fun slowing incorporating the eggs into the flour by hand.

Farm fresh eggs and flour.  That's it.

Farm fresh eggs and flour. That’s it.

You can roll out pasta with just a rolling pin, but we decided to take the plunge and add another appliance to our kitchen.  Julie says our cabinets are overflowing.  I disagree.

We decided to add a pasta machine to our kitchen.

We decided to add a pasta machine to our kitchen.

Using one set of rollers, you roll the pasta dough out to the thickness you want.  If you like looong pasta, you can go crazy here.

Julie is our head pasta chef

Julie is our head pasta chef

Step 2 involves sending the thinned out pasta through the spaghetti or fettuccine rollers.  Our first batch worked great.  The pasta looked so nice and it seemed very easy.  We had trouble with subsequent batches, so we clearly have a few things to learn.

Easy as can be!

Easy as can be!

Fresh pasta cooks amazingly fast; less than 1 minute in salted boiling water and you are done.

Fresh pasta, ready to cook.

Fresh pasta, ready to cook.

Fresh bread came from dough we have on hand.  See my other posts on Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day if you’re interested in the easiest way to have fresh baked bread in your life.

Fresh homemade bread, of course!

Fresh homemade bread, of course!

Only the best Parmigiano Reggiano for our pasta!

Only the best Parmigiano Reggiano for our pasta!

We spent the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  Never a problem when you have good company.  How did the wines do with the meal?  Nebbiolo’s tannins really do cut the rich luscious taste of the spare ribs, readying you for your next bite.  Both wines were very nice, but a bit different.  Interestingly, I preferred the Giornata and Julie liked the Boroli best.  In this case, you couldn’t go wrong with either wine.

Fun to prepare, amazing to eat!

Fun to prepare, amazing to eat!

Giornata Nebbiolo ($40)
Giornata is a small winery near Paso Robles, CA. We were attracted to them by their approach to “create wines from Italian grapes grown in California employing the sensibility and philosophy of Italian winemaking.”  Their approach is right up our alley, as they pick their grapes at lower ripeness levels in order to produce balanced wines which pair beautifully with food.  We have not had a chance to visit yet, but they are on our list for our next trip to Paso Robles!
My notes:
Eye: Dark, barely translucent center, translucent edges.  Nice neutral garnet red.
Nose: Immediately on opening, roses and cherries.  A bit more shy after in the air for a while, but it always shows bright red fruit, cherries mostly.
Mouth: Tannic and acidic, but not over the top.  Definitely a wine for food.
I wouldn’t claim to be a Nebbiolo expert, but I think this wine could proudly show against wines from the Piemonte in Italy.

Giornata Nebbiolo from Paso Robles, CA.

Giornata Nebbiolo from Paso Robles, CA.  The mist in the glass is because the photo studio is outside in Minnesota!

Boroli Barolo ($40)
Since this is literally our first bottle of Barolo, we can’t really comment on how it stacks up against other Barolos.  I know this is not one of the most highly regarded (and expensive) Barolos, and lucky for us, it doesn’t really require cellaring for 15+ years before it is ready to drink.
My notes:
Eye: Medium warm red in color, dark in the center, translucent edge.
Nose: Roses, cherries, rich caramel
Mouth: Pretty tannic at first, but dissipates some over time.  Seems like a modern / New World version of Barolo, suspect a lot of barrique due to pretty dominant caramel overtones.  Still, a nice wine.
Julie commented that she liked both wines, but for different reasons.  She preferred this wine with our braised short ribs.

Boroli Barolo from Italy

Boroli Barolo from Italy

Any Barolo experts out there?  Vino in Love, any thoughts or advice?  I’d love to get some suggestions for additional wines as we continue our exploration!

Comments
5 Responses to “Nebbiolo Discovery with Short Ribs & Pasta”
  1. Just when I think your posts have reached their apex and you can in no way top it….

  2. Don says:

    This one has me salivating. Nice job!

  3. Diane F says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that next year’s Christmas present will be an electric pasta machine! It will change your life :-). I’m actually firing mine up this afternoon. Thanks for a great post and a good reminder about the magic of marinated and braised short ribs. Cheers!

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