It seems like about every other week, I drop the ball, and don't get this thing done when I want to. But hopefully, that means that on the weeks in between, that the TIPS are crazy awesome. That's unlikely. But I'm gonna keep telling myself that, so that my self-esteem remains inflated enough to keep this rigid airship afloat. That said, this week is more about the food, and less about the alcohol, which we'll get to momentarily, for now, let's deal with:
SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS
OK, let's do a quick history lesson on sauce. First off, marinara sauce is fairly new when it comes to Italian cuisine. This is due to the fact that tomatoes are a "new world" fruit, discovered in North America and likely brought back by Spaniards in the 16th century. Thus, the name marinara has nothing to do with tomatoes and everything to do with the sea. Marinara = Mariners Sauce (The more literal translation of "tomato sauce" would be salsa di pomodoro.) I feel like the most likely origin of the sauce itself, is that sailors cooked this meat-free sauce because it was easy to make and resisted spoiling due to the high acid content of tomatoes. This made it ideal for lengthy sea voyages hundreds of years before refrigeration methods were invented.
This leads to our drink of the week, which is:
It really is that vague. I'm sorry. I can give you the history of wine in Italy, but I'm not going to belabor that point, beyond saying that grape vines may have been tamed in mesopotamia, but they were perfected in the region which is now modern day Italy.
When pairing wine with things like a rich tomato sauce, you're going to want to go with something bright and fruity. Because of that, I'm going to recommend either a Zinfandel (not a white zinf, but a classic Zinf), or a Chianti.
Now, the name Zinfandel is not Italian. As a matter of fact, the name doesn't have a known origin. If you were shopping for this strain of grape in Italy, you could instead be looking for Primitivo. It is generally the exact same grape, just with a better name, and grown in a sexier region of the world.
Chianti's are grouped into a category known as "Super Tuscans". Even though that sounds really awesome, I get the feeling that it's a bit of a lower class of wine in Italy (or once was, at least). The reason is that Super Tuscan's don't follow the traditional blending laws of their region. Thus they are blends of wine, that stray from tradition, and allow for more variety. Because these wines don't conform to strict classifications, they were initially labeled as vino da tavola, meaning "table wine," a term ordinarily reserved for lower quality wines. The creation of the Indicazione Geografica Tipica category helped bring Super Tuscans "back into the fold" from a regulatory standpoint. Whatever.