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Why wine is a friend to Italian sausage [Chicago Tribune :: BC-WBS-ITALIANSAUSAGE-PAIRINGS:TB]

The savoriness of Italian sausage is complemented by the sweetness of just slightly cooked Sun Gold cherry tomatoes in this effortless pasta dish. The wine should be as easy. We have three choices that bring the acidity you'll want to match the richness.

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MAKE THIS

SAUSAGE, TOMATO AND GOAT CHEESE PASTA

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 pint Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, sliced in half; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until tomatoes begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in 4 cooked Italian sausages, about 9 ounces total, sliced 1/2-inch thick crosswise. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until just heated through. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup green olives, pitted, quartered. Serve over pasta, topped with crumbled goat cheese. Makes: 2 servings

Recipe by Joe Gray

DRINK THIS

Pairings by sommelier Rachael Lowe of Spiaggia, as told to Michael Austin:

2010 Malat Brut, Kremstal, Austria: This sparkling wine, a blend of gruner veltliner and pinot blanc made in the traditional method with 24 months aging before release, has aromas of lemon, lime, yellow apple and pear. They all come together with a bracing acidity that will work beautifully with the acidity of the tomatoes while also cutting through the richness of the goat cheese.

2015 Tenuta di Ghizzano Il Ghizzano, Costa Toscana, Tuscany, Italy: Made predominantly from sangiovese grapes blended with a touch of merlot, this medium-bodied wine has notes of red cherry, strawberry, licorice, purple flowers and a touch of mushroom. It is elegant and has racy acidity that will nicely counter the richness of the meat and cheese while also complementing the vegetables.

2013 La Nerthe Les Cassagnes, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Rhone Valley, France: This is a lovely wine made from grapes sourced from 40-year-old vines of grenache, syrah, mourvedre, carignan and cinsault. The wine is a balanced and nuanced representation of Cotes du Rhone, with aromas of candied raspberry, black cherry, dried herbs and a hint of smoke. The herbal notes will complement the olives and tomato, while medium tannins will cut the sausage's richness.

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