It may have “sloppy” in the name, but that doesn’t mean you have to slum it when thinking of wine pairings. Think of this recipe as sloppy Joes with an Italian accent, an updated take that skips a packet of seasoning for fresher, bolder flavors. Lush with ripe fruit flavors and darker notes of smoke, leather and pepper, hearty Old World wines help to elevate the experience, even as you reach for more napkins.
SLOPPY GIUSEPPES: Saute a finely chopped onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped; cook, 1 minute. Add 1 pound ground beef, stirring it into the onions and breaking it up; cook until browned. Stir in 1/2 cup red wine, 1 can (14.5 ounces) Italian pear tomatoes, chopped, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Serve on rolls, topped with a slice of provolone and a generous helping of giardiniera. Makes: 6 servings.
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Pairings by sommelier Rachael Lowe of Spiaggia, as told to Michael Austin:
2014 Castello Colle Massari Rigoleto Montecucco Rosso, Tuscany, Italy: This Montecucco Rosso DOC wine is composed of 70 percent sangiovese plus a mixture of montepulciano and ciliegiolo grape varieties. It was aged in both stainless steel and used oak barrels, offering aromas of red cherry, orange pith and strawberry. Acidity balances the tomatoes and cuts through the fat of the beef, which is itself complemented by a hint of smoke.
2014 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France: Graillot is the premier Crozes-Hermitage producer in the northern Rhone Valley, making focused yet varietally correct representations of the syrah grape variety. With notes of black pepper, smoked meat, black currant and raspberry, plus dried sage and thyme, this wine will not only balance the tomato and beef, but also counter the sweetness of the onion. It nicely complements the dish’s herb components.
2012 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva, Rioja, Spain: This blend of tempranillo and graciano grape varieties spends 20 months in both French and American oak barrels, and then a further two years in the bottle. Its flavors of dill, vanilla, strawberry, macerated cranberries, and a hint of leather will play well with the beef and herbs. The ripe fruit flavors will also mellow the giardiniera, while the acidity will cut the provolone’s richness.