Cooler weather stimulates cravings for heartier dishes, such as lasagna. If you don’t have time to make one, buy frozen lasagna to cook at home. Accompanied by a green salad, crusty bread and good wine, it can serve as the basis for a simple but indulgent weeknight meal or a stress-free dinner.
Recently, The morning news from Dallas The wine panel explored wine pairings for a lasagna from Jimmy’s Food Store. East Dallas’ Italian Market has a loyal following for its soul-satisfying meat version: four layers of tender pasta sandwiched with thin ribbons of marinara, crumbled meatballs, melted mozzarella and a little ricotta, all topped with Jimmy’s Mild Italian Sausage. The lasagna comes in two sizes: small ($17.99), serving 2-3 servings, and large ($37.99) serving 6-8 people.
We sampled 20 wines under $25 with the lasagna and found seven great pairings, including some super bargains. One of our picks sells for under $10, and we were able to find all of our winning matches under $20 (prices vary by store). If you’re willing to spend over $25, you’ll no doubt find Chianti Classico wines that shine with this lasagna, too.
Our sommelier panelists were Paul Botamer (of Fearing’s at the Ritz Carlton), Jeff Gregory, (operating partner at 55-Seventy, a private wine club and storage facility opening in 2022); and Jennifer Uygur (Co-Owner and Beverage Manager of Restaurant Lucia). Read on to find out which affordable wines our panel tasted with Jimmy’s Meat Lasagna.
Molo 8 Lambrusco Mantovano, NV
Sparkling red wine with lasagna? Yes please! This dry and sparkling Lambrusco provides a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of the dish. “It’s frizzante, so it’s very palate-cleansing — and great with lasagna,” Botamer said. Gregory added that the wine had enough length to support the dish. Lasagna is one of many foods — like cured meats or savory cheese — that pairs well with this fruity, bubbly red.
$15.99 to $17.99 at Jimmy’s, Pogo’s, Dallas Fine Wines, Momo’s (available at retail), Corner Wines (in Plano), McKinney Wine Merchant, and The Downing Bottles and Bites (in Rockwall).
Cantina Zaccagnini “Tralcetto” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, DOC, 2018
Despite explosive growth since its founding in 1978, the family business Cantina Zaccagnini has always maintained the good quality of this affordable wine. Made from 100% Montepulciano grapes from the winery’s 375-acre estate, this medium-bodied wine features supple tannins and a good balance of fruit and acidity. Panelists liked the wine’s sweet dark plum fruit. “It’s rich and plummy, and provides a nice contrast to the lasagna,” Uygur said.
$13.49 to $15.99 at Jimmy’s, Sigel’s, Trader Joe’s on Greenville, Market Street, McKinney Wine Merchant and Total Wine (Plano, Allen and Lewisville stores).
Brancaia Tre Rosso Toscana IGT, 2016 (choice of the jury)
A blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine beats its price and enhances all the flavors of lasagna. “On the palate, it’s tastier, with herbaceous notes. Pairing makes you pay more attention to the meat, herbs and spices in the lasagna,” Uygur said. Gregory credited the “skillful use of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon” for the grassy undertones in the wine, which enhanced the sauce. “It’s delicious, very complex. You’ll want another drink. If someone gave it to me as a gift, I would be delighted. Bang for the buck is hard to beat,” Botamer said.
$19.99 to $24.99 at Jimmy’s, Central Market on Lovers Lane, McKinney Wine Merchant and Schrick’s Liquors.
Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2018
Panelists praised this good weekday lasagna wine. “It’s very approachable, but there’s enough acidity to balance the fruit. It has beautiful fruit, but it’s not sweet like jam,” Uygur said.
Gregory praised the wine’s “engaging nose” and Botamer liked its floral notes, which provide complexity.
$24.99 at Sigel’s, Eataly, Pogo’s and Total Wine in Preston Village (Plano North).
Ruffino “Il Ducale” Toscana IGT, 2018
Made from Sangiovese, Syrah and Merlot, the spice notes of this modern Tuscan blend lifted the flavor of the lasagna. “The dark fruit and spice of the syrah balance out the sangiovese, making it a great pairing,” Gregory said. Botamer liked the dried cherries and spicy quality of the wine, which enhanced the sweetness of the Italian sausage. “It’s a delight for those who gravitate to New World-style wines,” Uygur said.
$17.99 at Sigel’s, Goody Goody on Greenville, Tom Thumb (Lovers Lane and Preston-Forest) and McKinney Wine Merchant.
Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, DOC, 2018
Cannonau is the local name for Grenache which blooms in the Italian island of Sardinia. Italian researchers believe the grape may have come from the island. “It’s soft, velvety and delicious,” Botamer said. Uygur noted that the lasagna enhanced the herbaceous quality of the wine. “It’s like house wine in a trattoria in Italy. It’s intimate, and the lasagna is intimate — they make a great pair,” she said.
$16.99 to $17.88 at Central Market, Jimmy’s, Spec’s and Total Wine.
Cune Rioja Crianza, DOC, 2017, Spain
Made from 100% Tempranillo, this Spanish wine is a natural for lasagna and pasta with meat sauce, and it’s exceptional value too. “It’s very well done – delicious, with terrific balance,” Botamer said. Uygur loved the refreshing quality of wine. “It reads clearer and cleaner than our other favorites,” she said. “It enhances the meat and doesn’t drown out the lasagna,” added Gregory.
$9.47 to $13.57 at Total Wine (Park Lane and Plano stores), Central Market, Spec’s, most Whole Foods Market stores and most Costco stores.
Tina Danze is a freelance writer from Dallas.