I recently tried to replicate one of the most simple yet distinct pasta dishes I have ever enjoyed, bucatini with Pecorino Romano and crushed black peppercorns.
While my humble version of Cacio e Pepe last night (photo below), lacked the restaurant performance of lighting grappa on fire in the center of a large, hallowed Pecorino wheel and pouring steaming hot bucatini into the center until the cheese melted, it did capture the incredible flavors. In particular, the savory cheese and roasted peppercorn spice.
Many wines are versatile, many wines have body, and others have texture. There are even several with zesty acidity that require food. Few, however, are so wonderfully distinct that you can only image pairing specific foods with them. In this case, the savory texture of Cacio e Pepe requires one wine, the extremely rare 2010 Ronchi di Cialla Schioppettino.
Brought back from near extinction, Schioppettino is an Italian red grape indigenous to the Friuli region. Its hallmark is its uncanny and delicate balance of lightness and weight, elegance and robustness. Its Pinot Noir-like texture has a hint of balsamic reduction and pretty citrus accents on the finish, all of which beg for food. Imagine your favorite Barolo with dried strawberries, rose petals, herbs and crush peppercorns.
With this wonderfully distinct wine, food gets paired AFTER you've cracked open a bottle and not before. Our suggestion? A peppercorn rubbed tenderloin or....Cacio e Pepe. Enjoy!