Primitivo pairs best with Grilled Vegetable Pasta, Pizza Rustica, Spaghetti Bolognese, Pasta Puttanesca, Eggplant Parmesan, Chicken Cacciatore, and Lamb Curry.  The low tannin and medium acidity, along with the easy-going nature of Primitivo, makes it food-friendly with hearty and earthy fare, including tomato-based dishes.

Italian Primitivo is related to the Zinfandel grape but has a little more Italian flair.  Expect Primitivo to be less jammy than Zinfandel and higher in acidity.  Primitivo also has more rustic flavours of smoke, black pepper, tobacco, earth and spices. While not jammy, Primitivo has a perceived sweetness due to its bold flavours of cherry, plum, raisins, and blueberries.  The wine is classified as dry, and it’s just that the berry flavours make the wine seem slightly sweet.

You’re most likely to find bottles of Primitivo that are produced in the Puglia region of Italy, but it’s grown all over the world, including California, Canada, Australia and Chile.  Rich, velvety and  oak-aged Primitivo has found an enthusiastic audience among Zinfandel lovers due to their competitive price.

Best Wine with Primitivo

PrimitivoPasta with Grilled Vegetables
PrimitivoPizza Rustica
PrimitivoRoast Goose
PrimitivoItalian Wedding Soup
PrimitivoPasta Puttanesca
PrimitivoChicken Parmesan
PrimitivoSpaghetti and Meatballs
PrimitivoPasta Bolognese
PrimitivoChicken Cacciatore
PrimitivoPenne alla Vodka
PrimitivoEggplant Parmesan
PrimitivoEggplant, Grilled
PrimitivoHamburgers Well Done
PrimitivoGouda, Smoked
PrimitivoCaramelized Onions
PrimitivoPasta with Tomato Sauce
PrimitivoStrozzapreti With Roasted Tomato
PrimitivoZucchini, Grilled
PrimitivoLamb, Roasted
PrimitivoPenne all'Arrabbiata
PrimitivoPizza with Sausage
PrimitivoTomatoes - Fire Roasted
PrimitivoVeal Parmesan
PrimitivoPasta Rustica
PrimitivoBeef Bulgogi
PrimitivoPork Chops
PrimitivoRed Peppers - Fire Roasted
PrimitivoPulled Pork
PrimitivoLentil Stew
PrimitivoBeef Carne Asada
PrimitivoLamb Curry
PrimitivoBaked Beans
PrimitivoParmesan Cheese

Pasta with Grilled Vegetables & Primitivo Pairing

Acidic, easy-going, but rustic, Primitivo checks all the boxes with Pasta mixed with Grilled Veggies and covered in a red sauce.  The acidity of Primitivo plays well with the tomato sauce, while the earthy flavours of smoke, spice, black pepper, licorice and dark chocolate merge beautifully with the charred vegetables found in your Pasta.  Caramelized onion, fire-roasted red peppers, grilled zucchini, and charred Eggplant all appreciate the rustic qualities of Primitivo.

Pizza Rustica & Primitivo Pairing

Pizza Rustica is a Puglia specialty where a pizza is topped with tomatoes, onions, capers, garlic and anchovies.  Other ingredients such as chicken sausage or herbs may be incorporated as well, but overall you’ll have an incredibly pungent pizza that mirrors that of Pasta Puttanesca.  The full-bodied fruitiness of Primitivo holds up to the savoury and potent flavours of the capers, onions and anchovies with ease and keeps your palate refreshed in between bites.  Meanwhile, the sweet tannin found in the dry Primitivo goes well with the sweetness that the tomatoes and cheese impart.

Primitivo Red Wine & Eggplant alla Parmigiana Pairing

Primitivo is a great wine pairing with Eggplant Parmesan because the wine’s acidity softens the bitterness of the Eggplant. The acidity also cuts through the fried breading and cheesy Parmesan sauce, allowing you to get a tasteful bite of the Eggplant.  Usually, the pan-fried breading and gooey cheese will coat your taste buds and dampen the flavours of everything else, making the dish taste homogenous after a few bites.  With Primitivo’s ample acidity, it keeps your taste receptors clean in between bites, so every delicious bite of food tastes like the very first one.

Finally, Primitivo often has low tannin and higher acidity.  This ratio is important when pairing with tomato sauce, as tomatoes are very acidic and clash with tannin in wines if they are high.  This is a bad thing, as it will make the wine taste flat, bitter and metallic.  With Primitivo having more acidity than tannin, this will not be a concern, making the red wine a wonderful choice with Eggplant Parmesan.

As a final note, Primitivo is just as delicious with Chicken Parmesan as well!

Hamburgers and Primitivo Pairing

Primitivo makes for an excellent wine pairing with hamburgers for several reasons.  First of all, Primitivo’s balanced acidity and juicy flavours of cherry, blackberry and raspberry are refreshing against the meaty flavours of hamburgers, especially if they are a touch dry.  People worried about fat often select lean meat to make hamburgers, leading to dry hamburgers.  The situation is made worse if the hamburger is cooked to well-done, which is often the case due to fears of e. coli.  The acidity of Primitivo also ensures it’ll pair well with any condiments and toppings such as ketchup, pickles, mustard and relish, which are all highly acidic.

The sweet tannin found in Primitivo is ample enough to bring out the best flavours in the beef protein.  The protein also helps smooth out the wine, allowing deeper flavours of smoke, spice, earth and leather found in the wine to all come out and play.

Finally, an even better pairing, with Primitivo might even be Lamb Burgers as the herbal and spicy flavours of Primitivo complement the earthier and gamier flavours of the lamb.

Spaghetti Bolognese & Primitivo Pairing

The full-bodied flavour of  Primitivo makes it a wonderful match with Spaghetti Bolognese that is a little more saucier than meaty.  Overall, Bolognese sauce is a thick meat-based red sauce where tomatoes are kept to a minimum, however, recipes vary, so if your Bolognese sauce turns out to be a little too sauce, Primitivo will be an excellent pairing.  The balanced acidity of the wine ensures it won’t clash with the tomatoes in the sauce, while the bold and loud flavours of cherries, spice and raspberry hold up to the meaty flavours of Pasta Bolognese.

If you’re worried about the low tannin content of Primitivo, seek out a more expensive bottle that has seen some significant oak ageing.  These bottles are similar in style and flavour to a higher-end Zinfandel but are competitively priced, ensuring you a wonderful bargain.  The tannin in these wines will be much higher due to absorbing the tannin from the oak, however, also expect a higher amount of alcohol with this full-bodied red wine.

Meanwhile, the laid-back confidence of Primitivo makes the pairing seem natural and casual.  The wine doesn’t try to show off, rather it just does its job, ensuring your taste buds remain alert with the wine’s refreshing bath of cherry, raspberry and blueberry flavours.

For similar reasons, Primitivo pairs wonderfully with Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Notable Producers of Primitivo

In Italy, Apollonio, Botromagno, Calatrasi, Casa Catelli Cantele, Danese, Felline, and Pervini all make excellent Primitivo.  From California, Hendry makes an excellent Primitivo.  You’ll also find Primitivo grown and produced in Australia and Chile.