Aglianico is a full-bodied red wine that pairs best with flavourful dishes such as Beef Brisket, Osso Bucco, Oxtail, Spicy Sausages and Duck Confit. High in both tannin and acidity, Aglianico features refreshing flavours of plum, black cherry and blackberry, along with savoury notes of truffle, pepper, smoked meat, earth and leather.
Aglianico refers to the grape used to make Aglianico wine. However, Aglianico is also used to produce regional Italian wines such as Aglianico del Taburno, Taurasi, and Aglianico del Vulture. These specific regions will be explored with food pairings in a blog at a later date.
Furthermore, in the past, Aglianico was meant to be aged for a decade or longer before drinking. Most of the wine pairings below are meant for these traditional pairings as they are the dominant style. Modern styles of Aglianico that are ready to drink will still pair up nicely with these foods, however, I feel they go better with leaner but flavourful fare such as Wild Boar or Rabbit Stew and Bison Burgers.
Duck Confit is a classic French dish where cured duck meat is slow-cooked in its own fat to create a savoury food that melts in your mouth. The high-fat content of Duck Confit immediately softens the high-tannin of Aglianico as it smooths out the wine’s astringency. The high tannin of Aglianico makes the duck meat taste even more flavourful as tannin breaks down protein molecules in your mouth.
With notes of black pepper, herbs, earth, and smoke, Aglianico complements the meaty flavours of Duck Confit. Meanwhile, the high acidity of Aglianico provides lots of delicious and refreshing flavours of cherry, currant and plum to contrast the saltiness of the Duck Confit.
Beef Brisket & Aglianico Pairing
Beef Brisket is a tough cut of meat that is smoked at a low temperature for hours until it is tender and flavourful. During the cooking process, the fats, proteins and collagen content of the Beef Brisket melt down and are reabsorbed by the meat.
Popular amongst BBQ enthusiasts, Beef Brisket is loaded with smoky flavours which are complemented by the smokiness of Aglianico. Meanwhile, notes of black pepper, earth, dark chocolate, herbs and spices found in Aglianico are exceptional with Beef Brisket. Plus, with Aglianico, you’ll get flavours of cherry, plum and black currant that provide a nice fruity contrast against the beefy flavours of the brisket.
Finally, high in fat and protein, beef brisket has no qualms with taming the tannin in a young Aglianico.
Osso Bucco & Aglianico Pairing
Osso Buco is a rich, meaty veal shank that demands an equally rich and flavourful red wine. Fortunately, Aglianico, which offers a bit of spice, fruit, and earthiness, fits this bill.
Incredibly tender once cooked, Osso Bucco softens the harsh tannin of a young Aglianico, allowing for all the fruit flavours to rush forward. With the softened tannin, you’ll also detect the tantalizing flavours of truffle, cured meat, ash, tobacco, leather, and burnt honey of Aglianico.
For Osso Bucco served in a Ragu Sauce featuring tomatoes, pair it up with a traditional Aglianico that has softer tannin or a modern Aglianico that is high in acidity. Tannin and the acidity of tomatoes often clash, making wine taste metallic, and I fear a young Aglianico might be too rowdy with tannin in this instance.
In instances where Osso Bucco is served with a mushroom sauce, any style of Aglianico will be brilliant!
Rabbit Stew & Modern Aglianico Pairing
Modern Aglianico is a red wine that does not require a whole lot of aging and is often ready to drink right off the shelf. Because you skip past the decades of patience, you give up many characteristics that make Aglianico incredibly expressive. While lush flavours of black cherry and plum remain, they are not as powerful or vibrant. You’ll also find dusty notes of earth, tar, rose and smoke. However, the spicy, floral and herbal notes will only be whispers.
The toned-down flavours of a Modern Aglianico are perfect for leaner meats as they lack the fat to make them flavourful. Rabbit is a leaner meat, making it a wonderful pairing with modern Aglianico.
With Rabbit Stew, you have a variety of ingredients at your disposal. Carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, herbs, potatoes, leeks and peppers will all be agreeable with the black pepper, smoke, truffle, dark coca, and game flavours of Aglianico. Since the flavours complement one another, the stew’s ingredients will make the muted modern Aglianico flavours stand out even more.
You’ll also have delicious flavours of wild strawberry, blackberry and black cherry in Aglianico to keep you refreshed against the savoury texture of your Rabbit Stew.
Spicy Sausages & Aglianico Pairing
By spicy sausages, I mean sausages that have a lot of flavour but not a lot of heat. You do not want tannin or wines heavy in alcohol near hot spices as it will only fuel the burn.
Aglianico is a savoury and spicy wine which complements many of the spices used in Sausage, including Black/White Pepper, Oregano, Sage, and Cumin.
The sweetened layers of strawberry, blackberry and cherry are refreshing against the strong spicy notes, while the wine is tamed by the high fat and protein content of the Sausage.