I know September is technically still summer. But there’s just something about the changing of the months that gets me thinking about fall.
And more specifically, my favorite Spaghetti Bolognese sauce sprinkled with parmesan cheese and enjoyed with a good bottle of wine. Today, I’m sharing the recipe for one of Marcella Hazan’s famous pasta sauces and my picks for Bolognese wine pairings.
So set your dinner table and get ready to enjoy some delicious pasta and good wine.
Marcella Hazan is a legend in the world of Italian cuisine. Moving from Italy to New York in the ‘50s, she was appalled that we Americans put things like packaged tomato sauce on our burgers. Or that we eat food that was previously frozen (the horror!).
So, she decided to do something about it. She started teaching cooking classes out of her Manhattan apartment’s kitchen, introducing her students to new ingredients like lamb kidneys and calamari.
Eventually, she went on to write several best-selling cookbooks with recipes for Italian food from her home region of Emilia-Romagna and many from Tuscany. And in the ‘90s, she won the James Beard Best Italian Cookbook award for her book “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.”
I love her simple Bolognese sauce recipe from this cookbook. It’s a classic dish that I can leave simmering on the stove all day while doing chores (or more likely while reading one of my latest wine book finds). And it makes our house smell amaaazing.
It also makes a great filling for a meat sauce lasagna.
The best part about this Italian pasta dish is freezing half of it to enjoy a few weeks later. Hmm, I wonder if Marcella would approve…
Anyways, if you’re wondering about the best wines to pair with Pasta Bolognese, keep reading because I’ve got some great wine pairing recommendations for you. But before I get to that, here are a few tips for this recipe.
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Tips for Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Meat Sauce Recipe
For this recipe, Marcella recommends using a pot or large saucepan that retains heat. I’ve found my enameled Lodge Dutch oven works great.
I also love my Wusthof knives for chopping all the veggies.
PSA: Please do not use anything labeled “cooking wine” in this recipe. If you wouldn’t drink it on its own, then don’t put it in your food. Most dry white wines should work fine for this. I’d recommend something like a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc.
Note that the recipe calls for vegetable oil rather than olive oil because it has a higher smoke point. Also, be sure to salt the meat immediately after you put it in the pot. This helps bring out the juices.
BTW, if you haven’t yet, make sure to grab my free Wine Tasting Planner. It has 20+ wine night theme ideas, including the exact ones I’ve used for my wine tastings. Plus, a timeline, food pairings, games, free printables, worksheets, and more. Get your copy here.
Best Bolognese Wine Pairings
Wines that have a high tannin content and good acidity are the best choice to go with this red sauce. The fat in the ground beef will balance out the tannins, and the acidity will hold up to tomato-based sauces.
You don’t need to go beyond Italian wines for a ton of great options. Here are my recommendations for the best wine pairing picks.
While you’re here, don’t miss my ultimate guide to pasta wine pairing.
Classic Pick: Chianti Classico
You can’t go wrong with a classic Italian Chianti. They don’t call it Classico for nothing. This Tuscan titan is the OG pairing with Bolognese. Like Romeo and Juliet, it’s a match made in heaven (except for the whole drinking the poison part).
The combination of Sangiovese’s high acidity and high tannins with the richness of the sauce will make you feel like you actually are in heaven. Just make sure it says Classico on the bottle.
Special Occasion Pick: Brunello di Montalcino
Trying to impress your boo? Look no further than Brunello.
Like Chianti Classico, this Italian red wine is made from the Sangiovese grape but in the southern part of Tuscany. The warmer climate makes it more intense and fuller-bodied. It’s also required to be aged five years, two in oak, before release.
To get the most bang for your buck, buy one of these Italian reds and hold it for several years. Your taste buds will thank you.
Don’t have time to wait? The younger and less expensive Rosso di Montalcino would also make a good pairing with this classic Italian dish.
White Pick: Verdicchio
If you’re not a red-wine drinker, don’t fret. Though not as good of a match, you can have white wine with this dish, especially since there’s actually some in the sauce.
Verdicchio, one of my favorite white wines of Italy, would be a great match with its dry crispness and great acidity.
Or you could just have the rest of the bottle that you used for the recipe. That is, if you haven’t consumed it all while cooking (guilty as charged).
Pin for Later!
- Enameled Dutch oven
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp butter for sauce
- 1 tbsp butter for tossing with pasta
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2/3 cup chopped celery
- 2/3 cup chopped carrots
- 3/4 pound ground beef chuck Or you can use a mix of ground beef and ground pork.
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 whole nutmeg or ground nutmeg
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups canned plum tomatoes cut up with juice Italian tomatoes preferred
- Put oil, butter, and chopped onion in pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
- Add celery and carrots and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Cook until the beef is just browned.
- Add milk and simmer, stirring frequently, until absorbed.
- Add 1/8 of a teaspoon of nutmeg and stir.
- Add wine and simmer until evaporated.
- Stir in tomatoes and when they begin to bubble, turn down to a low simmer.
- Cook for 3 hours uncovered. If sauce dries out while cooking, add 1/2 cup of water, but make sure to cook off so no water is left at the end.
What will you be having with your Bolognese?