The Pasta and Merlot Pairing You've Been Asking For


The Pasta and Merlot Pairing You've Been Asking For

Its the pasta and Merlot pairing you asked for!

Back in March, we shared some of Executive Chef Sarah Walz's cooking tips and wine pairings for anything-but-basic at home dishes. She gave us a list of ideas for using pantry staples in mouthwatering ways, including a Merlot-friendly pappardelle with pork, garlic and braising greens that inspired dozens of wine and food lovers to write in requesting the recipe.

You asked for it. She wrote it down! Now, we're sharing it here.

While we matched it with the lush layers of ripe plum and red fruit flavors of our Nickel & Nickel Harris Vineyard Merlot, this savory pasta pairs beautifully with any of our Nickel & Nickel single-vineyard Merlots. It's one of our new favorite pasta and wine pairings. It's also very forgiving, if you don't have all the right ingredients. Pour a glass of your favorite Napa Valley Merlot and feel free to wing it!

Pappardelle with Pork Sausage with Chopped Kale

Wine Pairing: Nickel & Nickel Harris Vineyard Merlot

Serves 4

Chef's Note: This pasta and Merlot pairing was truly inspired by a March afternoon spent foraging in our home pantry. I mixed two different types of pork sausage, one a farmer's market find from Encina Farms. They raise acorn-fed Iberico pigs on their 600-acre ranch in Middletown. I also had some pre-made spicy sausages from the Whole Foods butcher that needed to be used up. I married the two with some artisanal egg pasta, baby kale and chopped herb, et voila, dinner was served!


½-pound bulk pork sausage

2 individual spicy Italian Pork sausage, sliced in ½-inch pieces

1 cup white onion diced

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 + 1 tablespoons olive oil

½-teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

4 ounces butter, diced

1 teaspoon aged sherry vinegar

½-pound chopped kale or baby kale

Lemon juice

Piment espellette, or chili flakes

Pinenuts, toasted


Bring five quarts lightly salted water to a boil.

Heat a large sautee pan on medium heat and add two tablespoons olive oil. Allow your oil to warm before adding chopped onions. You should see small wiggly lines in your oil, which tells you it's warm enough. Use a wooden spoon to stir every minute for three minutes. Add garlic and continue stirring for 30 seconds. Push onions and garlic mixture to one side of pan, add the sausages and sear for one minute. Stir, breaking up the pieces and mixing with the onions. Cook all together for five to seven minutes, until cooked through and hot. Stir in chopped kale, chopped herbs, a teaspoon of sherry vinegar, fresh ground pepper, and a pinch of pimente espellette. Set aside.

Add pappardelle pasta to your boiling water and cook for eight to ten minutes. While your pasta cooks, heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat and add three tablespoons of your hot pasta water to the pot. Add two tablespoons of your diced butter and whisk, emulsifying your butter with the water. Note: it should be slightly boiling. Add your remaining butter and continue whisking. Turn off heat just as the last piece of butter has melted. Drain your cooked pasta, then add drained pasta to the butter sauce. Â Season with a sprinkle of salt & fresh ground pepper, and coat pasta with your sauce.

Place pasta in bowls, add a generous scoop of your sausage and kale mix. Then top with shaved parmesan and toasted pine nuts as desired. Pour a glass of your favorite single-vineyard Merlot we're big fans of Nickel & Nickel Harris Vineyard Merlot's juicy Oakville fruit and enjoy!

Napa Valley Merlot Pairing

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