Rain! It Makes Us Crave Italian Food and Wine

With all of the rainy and cold weather we’ve been blessed with, I found myself craving a full-bodied red wine and a bowl of warm pasta. There was only one bottle I had in mind this week as I went out into the rainy night. It’s called Gaja.

Angelo Gaja is a renowned cult winemaker from Italy, specifically from the sacred region of Barbaresco. He made a name for himself hunting out the finest vineyards, showcasing them with the term “Sori” on his bottles. His approach is very modern—full extraction, heavy- handed with oak, with a penchant for unleashing fruit and terroir into every bottle he crafts. I could preach on and on about the iconic wines Gaja produces from Piedmonte, but today I want to talk about his other project.

Ca’Marcanda “Promis” is Gaja’s latest venture. This wine is a Super-Tuscan, a term used for wines created in Tuscany that love to break the rules. Super-Tuscans come in all shapes and forms, so having an understanding on each producer and its specific label is the only way to understand what’s inside the bottle. Gaja’s “Promis” is a rich, spicy blend of exotic syrah and merlot blended with the native sangiovese. Compared to prices Gaja bottles fetch at auction, his “Promis” label is considered a steal at $40 retail.

I pair this wine with one of my favorite creamy gnocchi dishes. The wine’s ripe flavors of fruit, coupled with its round texture, make it a perfect match. Here is my recipe, if you’d like to see what I’m talking about.Dish


Gnocchi With Spinach, Crispy Prosciutto, and Crimini Garlic Cream Sauce

Prep 25 min Ÿ Cook 25 min Ÿ Ready 50 min Ÿ Makes 4 servings


2 cups uncooked gnocchi

1 cup rinsed arugula

4 slices prosciutto, baked or sauteed

5 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup sweet onion, coarsely chopped

1/5 cup cream, or to taste

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

  • Place onions, garlic, and mushrooms in a large saute pan coated with olive oil. Saute until tender. Dust with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • While sauteing, bake or quick-fry prosciutto until crispy.
  • While crisping prosciutto, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  • Crack baked prosciutto over sautéed ingredients and add arugula.
  • While stirring the mixture, slowly add cream and grated Parmesan until you reach the desired thickness.
  • Add gnocchi to boiling water; this only takes a few minutes. Once gnocchi floats to the surface, they should be perfectly al dente.
  • Strain gnocchi and mix into sauté pan with the other ingredients; taste for additional seasonings and serve.


Want to learn more about Italian wine and food?

On Jan. 16th, Prego Ristoranti in Irvine is throwing an Italian wine-tasting presentation highlighting various regions of Italy. In addition, there’s an optional dinner add-on for those in the mood for a little wine-pairing magic.

$65 for wine presentation, $40 for dinner add-on. 18420 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, 949-553-1333, pregoristoranti.com

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