California Sangiovese + Whole Foods Frozen Pizza
Each broken heart needs a specific fix: those induced by college athletes call for cigarettes, those from French men require fast-food burgers and stadium hot dogs, and from the tall and beautiful Swedes, plenty of ice cream, like his frozen heart.
So, what would ease the pain caused by an Italian-born food & wine snob, who, when given any ingredient, can tell you the right way to cook it, and helpfully correct any dish you’ll ever cook, especially Italian food? Frozen pizza from the supermarket, that’s what. The new-age vegetarian kind, from the neighborhood gourmet grocer.
I opened the frozen whole-wheat rolled-crust pizza with roasted vegetables, tofu and goat cheese, cooked it to crispy perfection directly on the oven rack, and defiantly put the whole pie on my plate. Eating the entire thing – and forgetting the Italian snob – was gonna take a lot of wine, so I opened a bottle of California Sangiovese; bold enough for California pizza and enough fruit and alcohol to repel him and his palate.
Chianti and Italian food: is there a better combination in the world? Ok, maybe Champagne and oysters…or perhaps foie gras and Sauternes, but I digress. Sangiovese has a covert power; it can stand up to the biggest of dishes and also display complex and even pretty flavor combinations. It can almost seem elegant, sitting quietly in a corner – until provoked to attack with bold strokes and a long finish.
This 2006 Buoni Anni Sangiovese from Cent’Anni vineyards in Happy Canyon near Santa Ynez Valley doesn’t disappoint. It has notes of dried rhubarb and toasted tree branch, a lighter body which is slightly rounded in the mouth, and a finish long enough to satisfy La Cosa Nostra. It packs a punch.
This wine’s got pretty big amounts of fruit and wood, high alcohol and earthy tones, but it’s also balanced. And it’s heavy. Heavy enough to muscle in among bites of bistecca fiorentina, braised meat dishes or even pizza. Elegant until provoked. Then, it’s strong enough to obliterate from your memory anything—or anyone—you no longer wish to keep there. A good friend to have.
As frozen pizzas go, this one was surprisingly good. The vegetables tasted fresh, the crust was crispy and flavorful and the goat cheese added the perfect amount of tanginess. It was satisfyingly familiar, comforting and just a bit unexpected, which was more than I could say for him. As I finished the last crumbs on my plate, licking my fingers and draining my glass, I was smiling. I decided to keep this frozen pizza close to my heart, or at least in my freezer, at all times. Heart aches don’t stand a chance in my kitchen, no matter where they come from.