The weather here has finally turned cold, which gave me an excuse to make red sauce for spaghetti. And it also gave me a chance to get the Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Reserva 2004 ($30) out of the wine closet.
The wine was everything I had hoped it would be -- classic chianti with dark fruit, the tell-tale Italian tannins and earthiness, and low alcohol. We finished the bottle, barely noticing that it was gone. Which led me to wonder: Why are Americans so adamant that wine has to be the star of the meal? We're forced to drink high-alcohol, tannin-driven cabernets -- and made fun of if we don't enjoy them -- when these wines will overpower all but the beefiest meals.
The Volpaia was terrific, and mostly because it didn't overpower the food. It did what it was made to do -- complement the food. The acid in the red sauce and the fruitiness in the wine played off each other in a way that too many New World wines don't. I can't tell you specifically what made the wine so good. But I can tell you how good it was with dinner, and that's the most important thing.