Valentine’s Day is around the corner. For those that have a spouse, significant other, or boyfriend/girlfriend, there may be some pressure to have a special celebration that day. It was suggested to me by a PR company in Vancouver that having a nice, light Italian meal with a bottle of Chianti might fit the bill. They supplied me with the wine and the ingredients to make an Italian dish called “gnudi“, which is Italian for “nude“. I’m not sure of the history of the dish gnudi, but it does seem to flow with the idea of Valentine’s Day. So a bit about the dish, the wine, and then the pairing.
Gnudi looks similar to gnocchi, but it is instead made primarily with ricotta cheese, blended with parmesan, eggs and flour as binders, and spinach, nutmeg, salt and pepper for flavour and colour. The gnudi are made into small balls, then dropped in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, and then transferred to a fry pan with butter and sage leaves to brown. It is a bit of work, but the flavour is very nice I like the creaminess and lightness of the ricotta cheese, some graininess from the parmesan, and the hints of spinach, pepper, nutmeg and sage. None overpowers the other.
I have enclosed the link to Martha Stewart’s recipe for gnudi, as it looks pretty well organized to me.
I suggest if you want to try making gnudi, to do a covert test at home, so that you can get it perfect on Valentine’s Day. One of my suggestions is not to have the water boiling too hard as the gnudi are fragile and may break apart.
I received two bottles of Chianti from the Ruffino winery to taste. One is the Chianti Ruffino DOCG 2013, an entry level wine, while the other is the Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chiani Classico Reserva DOCG 2011, a higher tier wine.
Chianti Ruffino DOCG 2013 (BC $15.99) – This wine is made with a minimum of 70% Sangiovese grapes (the signature grape of the Chianti region) together with a miscellaneous mix of other grape varieties, including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has a medium ruby colour in the glass. A youthful nose with aromas of ripe red cherries, red berries, vanilla, and cocoa. Quite a fruity nose. On the palate, it is dry with a light, soft mouthfeel, but a bit angular. Lower levels of acidity tannins, acidity and body for this wine, with flavours of red cherry, plums, black berry, light oak and a hint of chocolate toward the finish. It does have mouth watering acidity, sour cherries on the finish, followed by some pepperiness on your tongue. I would have wished that the finish lasted a little longer
Rating: An easy to drink, light bodied Chianti with nice fruity nose, and light fruit flavours.
Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chiani Classico Reserva DOCG 2011 (BC $29.99) – This wine is made with 80% Sangiovese grapes combined with 20% of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, so a bit more Sangiovese than their regular Chianti. The grapes are also harvested from a very specific region in the Chianti Classico called Castellina. The wine uses a careful selection of their best grapes and undergoes 24 months of aging in oak, stainless stell and concrete vats, plus three additional months in bottle before release. It is translucent garnet in the glass with slight bricking on the edge (which is also a characteristic of the Sangiovese grape and may not indicate age). It has a light woody vanilla aroma, together with red cherries, sausage?, and dried herbs. It is dry on the palate with more roundness compared to the regular Chianti. Medium acidity, tannins, and body, with flavours of plum, vanilla, raspberry, blackberry and pepper, and an over-riding flavour of red cherry that seems to float above these other flavours. I also picked up some chocolate on the mid palate. Mouth watering finish and fairly peppery. A quality wine in the glass.
Rating: A quality wine that would pair nicely with most pasta dishes.
Pairing the Gnudi with Chianti
Both wines worked well with the gnudi. The Ruffino Chianti was fruitier and lesser acidity, while the Riserva Ducale was a bit richer in the mouth and had higher acidity, which I think was a better pairing. Enjoy either wine and enjoy the gnudi.