Cooking pasta in wine is more of a tradition, than a recipe. But as such, it is a custom that could only be born in a land that is both plentiful in wine and in pasta — Italy. This culinary quirk is known in different areas of Italy, and the resulting dishes have local names. The name for pasta cooked in wine used in Veneto is certainly the most appropriate: ubriachi, “drunken.”

Before you make your first batch of “drunken” pasta, you need to be prepared. The taste of wine will be most certainly present in your meal. It may be tangy and acidic. Unless you already know what you are doing, why not cook up another pot of pasta, just in case you absolutely cannot tolerate the “drunken” variety? This could be a great way for you and your friends to try something new, but only in the quantities that they can handle with comfort.

In its most basic form, cooking pasta in wine is no different from cooking it in water. However, if you are not willing to part with two bottles of wine, the trick is to only use as much as needed and perhaps add more if necessary. The choice of wine is very much up to you. People have used something as strong as Chianti, but in general something with a fruity taste like Soave or Pino Grigio is best.

The kind of pasta to be used is also up to you, but penne or any other tube variety are preferred. I suppose, this shape of pasta really gets tipsy. Prepare the pasta according to instructions on the box (al dente), replacing water with wine. Add a couple of bay leaves as a way to introduce a flavor you’d expect in a normal tomato-based sauce. If you are trying to conserve the wine, keep an eye on the pot, so that the pasta does not get too dry. You can even add some water instead of wine at this point.

When the pasta is ready, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with some grated cheese.

See also:
Italian wine customs
The art of toasting in Italian

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Click on this infographic to see a larger version.

The data in this infographic comes from Istat database and represents all known wine production in Italy from 2014. The top part is a heat map and the bottom is a graph showing data in hectoliters from all twenty regions of Bella Italia. As you can see, Venato remains a strong leader. The other three strongest wine producing regions in Italy are Apulia, Emilia-Romagna and Sicily. This isn’t to say that wines from other regions necessarily lack in quality, but if you ever want to plan a tour of the country centered around wineries, grapes and wine-making there are some regions you cannot leave out.

By the way, if you are wondering what a hectoliter is, it’s 100 liters. A standard bottle of wine equals 0.75 liters. So, one hectoliter is roughly 133 bottles. This means that the least significant wine producing region in Italy, Valle d’Aosta (by the way, did you notice that there isn’t one region in the country that does not deal in fermented grape products?) sealed up over 2,6 million bottles. Most of it is high quality, DOC label red wine, by the way.

See also:
Italian wine pairings. A fairly comprehensive guide.
Italian wine etiquette.
Italian toasts for every occasion.

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