While I love meatballs, they can be a pain to make. In one batch, there may be about 40 meatballs, and each one needs to be individually tended to. They each need to be rolled and then turned every so often in the skillet in order for them to cook. Half of the time, while I am in the process of turning a meatball, I break one, smush one, burn one, or undercook one…oy vey! I don’t make them very often. While delicious, they are annoying to make!

Gina from Skinnytaste’s recipe for her “Giant Turkey Meatball Parmesan” takes the annoyance out of making meatballs. Instead of making several meatballs, the recipe is one giant meatball! Nothing needs to be turned or tended to. You simply mash all of the ingredients together, form it into a ball, and bake!

Giant Turkey Meatball
The mix, before going in the oven, and the final product

While still on my “I wish I were Italian” kick, I was craving some spaghetti and meatballs. However, I was also in a lazy mood and didn’t feel like dirtying up the kitchen by making meatballs. I was delighted to find Skinnytaste’s Giant Meatball recipe. All of the ingredients for this dish are usually on hand in my house; ground turkey, cheese, marinara, breadcrumbs, eggs, and spices. Preparing of the meal would be  rather easy. What wouldn’t be easy was the wine pairing.

When making Italian inspired dishes, I like to have something from Italy for the wine pairing. I don’t have a specific Italian wine or varietal that I tend to buy. There are over 200 grapes that grow in Italy, so I try something new each time! There are about 30 bottles of wine in my wine cellar (okay, my closet), and yet none of them were Italian. How was I supposed to choose a wine for spaghetti and meatballs?

Luckily, many other non-Italian wines pair well with marinara sauce. The key is to have something that can cut the acidity of the marinara. If you like the tart taste of marinara, Zinfandels and Merlots, both of which are fruit forward, will balance out the acidity. If the sauce is too tangy for you, a leathery, rich Cabernet Sauvignon will minimize that flavor. I happen to enjoy a marinara with a bit of mouth puckering acidity, so I chose to pair my meal with a Zinfandel.

2015 Rubus Old Vines Zinfandel

2015 Rubus Old Vines Zinfandel

Rubus Zinfandel is a wonderful (and affordable!) example of a Zinfandel from Lodi, California. Zins from Lodi tend to have a rich, chocolate covered fruit type flavor with smooth finishes. Rubus was just that. Just looking at it, the color was simply gorgeous. It was a rich, ruby color that seemed to have a sparkle to it. On the nose, the Zin was fruit forward with raspberry, mocha, and licorice notes. When drinking, more fruit flavors appeared such as cherry and plum. A chocolate and black pepper finish sealed this deal with this wine. Rubus reminded me of a puppy; its texture was so soft and fluffy, and the flavors so warming!

Giant Turkey Meatball and Rubus Zinfandel

All together, this pairing was well balanced. Everything went so well together! I served the meal with spaghetti squash and arugula, which gave it both a texture and flavor “bite.” Had I not had the spaghetti squash, I think the meal would have been to “soft”. The wine was a liquid velvet, and the meatball was perfectly moist, so unless you enjoy soft textures in your food, pasta or spaghetti squash is highly recommended. 4 grapes! 

Recipe: Giant Turkey Meatball Parmesan

Wine: 2015 Rubus Old Vine Zinfandel

Store: Whole Foods ($17)


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