Few among us can look upon eggplant parmigiana without salivating. Rich and acidic, layered with cheese, tomato sauce, and, of course, eggplant, most gastronomers can agree: this Italian dish is simply delicious.
Its exact origins, however, are a subject of much disagreement. While Sicily, Naples, and Parma have all staked their claims in this debate, an indisputable victor has yet to be named. What we do know is that this dish has a long history, appearing in texts as far back as the 1700s.
A dish so rich and unexpectedly complex deserves to be paired with the best—foods, as well as drinks. Below, we’ll discuss a few of our favorite wine pairings with eggplant parmigiana, as well as how to discover new favorite pairings of your own.
Recommended Vintages To Serve With Eggplant Parmigiana
Below is a list of some of the best wines to pair with eggplant parmigiana. These wines should go well with your meal regardless of the specific recipe you or your chef may decide to use.
|2011 Ornellaia Masseto
|Dark fruits and spices perfectly match chocolate and herby undertones, with a supple, rich mouthfeel and silky, refined tannins.
|2016 – 2035
|1996 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia
|Full bodied with natural acidity. Notes of red-berried fruit delivering a bright but balanced finish.
|2010 Biondi-Santi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva
|A bouquet of rose and red fruits, soy, and leather, with a slow-building intensity and acidity. Undercurrents of tobacco, spice, and minerals—silky, smooth, and powerful.
|2013 Valdicava Brunello Di Montalcino
|Dark and velvety, with ripe cherry and black fruit, prune and plum. Structured, powerful, and expressive.
|2020 – 2035
|2013 Gaja Barbaresco Sori San Lorenzo
|Slightly intense but finessed: 100% Nebbiolo. One of the more powerful wines on the list, with notes of dark fruit, savory herb, licorice, and a touch of mint.
|2020 – 2045
|2011 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Riserva Le Rocche Del Falletto
|Expressive layers of fruit, minerals, and herbs, with a full-bodied elegance and a long finish.
* Tasting notes and drinking window estimates are based on Wine Advocate reviews.
These wines represent an excellent starting point whether you are new to pairing wine with food in general or, more specifically, unversed in pairing wine with eggplant parmigiana.
Choosing Wine Pairings for Eggplant Parmigiana
While individual recipes will, of course, put their unique spins on this classic Italian dish, the core ingredients will almost always be the same: eggplant, tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, olive oil, and basil. Of these ingredients, the flavors with the most power—and the most significance when choosing wine pairings—will be the rich cheese and acidic sauce.
When choosing your pairing, you’ll want to match bold with bold and choose flavors that either mirror or pleasantly contrast one another. Eggplant is the meatiest of all vegetables, so a good rule of thumb is to look for medium to full-bodied, acidic wines to pair with your eggplant parmigiana. Creamy foods can make tannins seem more astringent; choosing a bold wine with smooth tannins will balance the creaminess of the cheese while the acidity and depth of flavor will accentuate the tomato.
In general, this dish will pair well with high-quality vintages of the following varieties:
- Flavorsome, full bodied Nebbiolo, especially a Barolo or Barbaresco
- Bolder, fruitier Sangiovese, like a Brunello di Montalcino
- Merlot-based wines, like the 2011 Ornellaia Masseto
- High acidity, well-structured Super Tuscan blends, such as the 1996 the Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia
The key is to choose a wine that will not only mirror the acidity and richness of the dish but also won’t overpower it. For a truly flavorful dining experience, you can’t go wrong pairing your Italian dish with Italian wine. Whether you choose a wine from Parma, Sicily, Naples, or another region entirely, chances are the flavors in any such combination will pair particularly well.
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