HomeAbout UsWine ReviewsArchivesAdvertiseContact Us


Wine Columns

Wine Reviews

WineReviewOnline on Twitter

Critics Challenge

Distillers Challenge

San Diego Challenge

Sommelier Challenge


Winemaker Challenge

WineReviewOnline on Facebook

WineReviewOnline on Instagram

Nov 28, 2017
Printable Version
Email this Article

WINE WITH…Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

It’s that quiet time of year in the kitchen, the brief moment between America’s two most food-centric holidays when, for just a few days, home-cooks across the country take a mini-break from shopping, chopping, baking, simmering, peeling, slicing, and roasting. We no longer need to search the refrigerator for a tiny bit of real estate in which to store that cupful of leftover gravy (which may or may not get re-purposed for the next feast). The silver will stay polished for at least another few weeks; we don’t have to iron a fresh tablecloth, or lug bags of groceries home for a while. And one thing we definitely don’t want to do right now is spend a lot of time cooking tonight’s dinner.
On the other hand, we’re already sick of sandwiches, done with dieting, and tired of take-out. We want something that’s quick and simple to prepare but is also delicious and soul soothing. What we need is Italian comfort food in the form of spaghetti richly infused with garlic and olive oil.

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Serves 4

1 tablespoon sea salt
1 pound spaghetti or linguine
½ cup olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, cut in thin slivers
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus extra to pass at the table)
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot with water, add the salt, bring the water to a boil, and cook the pasta for about 7 minutes, or according to package directions. Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large sauté pan and add the slivered garlic and the pepper flakes. Cook, over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic just begins to turn golden (do not let it brown).

When the pasta is done, reserve one cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta and pour it into a large serving bowl. Stir the reserved cooking liquid into the garlic mixture and simmer for a couple of minutes. Stir in the parsley, cook for another few seconds, then pour the mixture over the pasta. Add the cheese and toss thoroughly. Serve at once.

* * *

This is a deliciously rich dish, so two types of wine will work with it. Color doesn’t much matter. Character, though, does. You want a wine that tastes sharp and bracing, to cut through the cheesy richness, or one with full, lush flavors to complement it. Neither choice is inherently better than the other. It all depends on what you’re in the mood for come suppertime.

Questions or comments? Contact us at [email protected]


Approx. Price


Luca Bosio

Cortese de Gavi



(Imported by Quintessential)


Crisp and fresh, with nutty flavors intermingling with citrus ones, and a tingling jolt of acidity, this very much is a wine that contrasts the dish. It contributes verve and vivacity, lightening what otherwise might seem heavy.


Santa Maria Valley





Just the opposite of the Luca Bosio, this is a rich, fleshy Chardonnay, chock-full of toasty, buttery flavors. It helps the rich dish taste even richer, so proves very satisfying.


Sonoma County


Sauvignon Blanc



Marked by lemon and grapefruit flavors, and tasting very fresh, so similar in style to the Luca Bosio. The difference comes less from the grape than the locale, as Sonoma’s warm growing conditions gives the wine less sharpness and a fuller body.




Orange Label


(Imported by Foley Family Wines)


A very light Chianti, but marked by Tuscan Sangiovese’s characteristic acidity, so fresh and lively. If you want a red wine to contrast the dish, this one fits the bill.

G. D. Vajra

Dolcetto d’Alba



(Imported by Country Vintner)


Surprisingly dark and lush for a Dolcetto, with smoky undertones and juicy plum-like fruit flavors, this is a smooth, supple red. Its soft, sensuous personality echoes the pasta’s.