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How to Pair Meatballs with Wine

How to Pair Meatballs with Wine

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Wine pairings for every kind of ball you can imagine

There are certain foods that scream "comfort," and the meatball is no exception. But all meatballs are not created equal and in fact, we believe all meatballs aren't even required to be made with meat. Meatballs are the perfect easy meal because they can be prepped ahead, are a great party treat, and can be served on trays or in a slow cooker to keep them hot and saucy for your guests. Whatever your recipe or your meatball need, we’ve got a meatball-wine-mash-up sure to please.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Sangiovese grapes make the perfect pairing for an old-school bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. This chianti’s dry, big boldness holds up to many people’s favorite way to enjoy meatballs.
CARPINETO Chianti Classico Riserva 2008 (Chianti, Italy) $23

Raisin and Pine Nut Meatballs

Everybody has their own secret ingredient when it comes to making meatballs. Raisins and pine nuts make for a moist meatball and pair well with a medium-bodied peppery red. In this instance, our cabernet franc pick has hints of cherry that really punch up the sweetness of the raisins.
SHERWOOD HOUSE VINEYARDS Cabernet Franc 2008 (Long Island, N.Y.) $40

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

If you’re serving some mini meatballs as finger food at a party, you can’t go wrong with fruity, zesty crowd-pleasing, perfectly priced sauvignon blanc.
OYSTER BAY Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough, New Zealand) $11

Meatless 'Meat' Balls

Who said a meatball had to have meat in it? Rice balls need wine pairings, too. Try this meatless cheesy wonderfulness with a crisp, balanced light riesling that will make you think of spring. It’s both fruity and floral and dry.
ANNI Riesling 2011 (Pfalz, Germany)$16

Cod and Potato Balls

Take your favorite recipe for cod and potato croquettes or cod cakes and just alter the shape a little and you’ve got meatballs for vegetarians or fish lovers. Eat them while they’re hot and pair with this lush and creamy chardonnay.
AMAPOLA CREEK Chardonnay 2011 (Russian River Valley, Calif.) $45

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Top pairings

This much loved Italian-American classic needs no more than a simple carafe of rosso - Sicilian I suggest. I had a similar combination at the Francis Ford Coppola winery a few years ago and they have exactly the right idea. A young gulpable Chianti would also hit the spot as would a Rosso di Montepulciano or Rosso Conero.

Baked meatballs with cheese

A similar type of recipe to the above just slightly richer so it might need a gutsier red - the sort you&rsquod serve with a lasagne. Try a zinfandel, a southern Italian red like a primitivo or nero d&rsquoavola or a barbera.

Middle-eastern meatballs

Here you have spice (usually cumin and coriander), garlic, loads of herbs (coriander, mint and parsley) and yoghurt to contend with. I&rsquod pick a medium-bodied red wine from Greece, the Lebanon or even the Languedoc (see this match the other day) but a dry rosé would also be delicious. Or even a crisp white . . .

Swedish (or other Scandi) meatballs

More savoury than the other three and generally served with a creamy gravy. Take the cue from the lingonberry jam by which they&rsquore often accompanied. A bright fruity red like a pinot noir would work or - and you may be surprised by this - an inexpensive red Bordeaux or Bergerac.

Image ©nadianb at

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Best Wine to Pair With Spaghetti and Meatballs

“Mama Mia – that’s a spicy meatball!” – the exclamation leads to the belief that the fare hailed from Italy, but the origin of the meatball and the spaghetti and meatballs dish is unclear. We know that generally, households used leftover or unused parts of meat with day-old bread or bread crumbs to stretch their use over several days. The now-popular spaghetti and meatballs meal seems to have originated in the United States, as Italians normally did not make a practice of serving meat with their pasta, rather, they would cook meats and use the sauce from the meat to cover their pasta, a way of stretching their own meals.

Meatballs typically consist of ground beef, bread crumbs, parmesan, basil, parsley, garlic, eggs and olive oil. The dish normally includes marinara sauce and spaghetti as the form of pasta. Few innovators have attempted drastic twists to the meal, although marinara sauce itself has as many versions as there are cooks. However, I found a couple of surprises within the culinary world. Rachel Ray instructs viewers to create “Spaghetti-and-Meatball Meatballs”, an appetizer featuring meatballs that were rolled with broken or leftover spaghetti pieces and a marinara dipping sauce. “Inside-out Spaghetti and Meatballs” either excites or repels those who have seen the compelling photo making its way through the internet. An enormous meatball is stuffed with spaghetti, marinara sauce and ricotta cheese.

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Enough of this wild talk. Let’s concentrate on pairing an old favorite with the appropriate wine. The team who took on the task comprises one Master Chef, one visitor center owner, one connoisseur and one wine writer.

Spaghetti with meat balls reminds me of the culinary trip to Venice with my husband, Chef Sir Roy Salazar. I enjoy a good, super-Tuscan Italian wine, like the 2004 Orbiao Super Tuscan - del Redi, with this dish. Most Italian wines have an acid element that helps cut through the fat in the meat balls, olive oil and parmigiano-reggiano cheese usually accompanying the dish. The Orbiao has great blackberry fruit from the low-yield grapes and light vanilla, due to the light toasting of the French oak barrels. The necessary acid in this wine cuts through the richness of the dish with elegance. Italy was great and Venice was a culinary hub at which to spend New Year’s. – Master Chef Julie Tan, Certified Master Chef, Sommelier and Taster Chef Instructor, LeCordon Bleu San Francisco, CA.

I appreciate a simple marinara sauce for my spaghetti and meatballs. The sauce really claims the right to be matched above all other elements of the dish, and I believe the 2008 Vino Noceto Sangiovese is perfectly suited. The wine has bright cranberry, cherry-berry fruit with crisp acidity and is beautifully balanced. Although Vino Noceto makes several single block and specialty blends the “normale” is my go-to wine for most meals. The higher acidity of a tomato dish needs a wine that has acidity or it will turn flat and metallic. This wine will not try to steal the spotlight but will merely shine brightly on the classic dish and let its comforting flavors speak. Spaghetti and meatballs is like a hug from grandma: it is comforting and refreshing year after year. The ultimate comfort food and wine experience . . . simply timeless. – Gregg Lamer, Owner, Amador 360 Wine & Visitor Center, Plymouth, CA.

I enjoy my spaghetti and meatballs with a simple, pure tomato sauce. I like to use fresh tomatoes and garlic from the garden. This gives the dish a potent tomato flair and, as such, requires a wine like the 2007 Viticcio Chianti Classico. This young chianti has an earthy, herbal aroma with hints of black cherry. As sangiovese is a naturally tannic wine, the tannins in this wine are well blended throughout. The acidity naturally found in the tomatoes harmonizes with the acidity in the wine. Overall, the wine has an excellent, long finish that enhances the pure, beautiful taste left from the spaghetti and meatballs. – Heather Young, Wine Connoisseur, Napa, CA.

My spaghetti and meatballs must be topped with parmesan cheese. The combination of tartness from the marinara sauce and creaminess from the cheese demands a wine that can meet both pairing challenges. I love the GV Cellars Market Merlot. The wine is full of vibrant fruit, but maintains merlot’s typical soft character, both necessary for this dish. Each of these features will contrast, as well, with the opposing ingredients. The winemaker notes flavors reminiscent of Royal Anne cherries coupled with sweet mocha. “Elegantly textured flavors fill the mid-palate with firm yet soft tannins driving the extended finish.” I’ll say! It’s tough to believe this well-dressed wine is only $15 per bottle. A scrumptious old-faithful dish paired with an affordable wine. – Paula Barker, Wine Writer,, Santa Ana, CA.

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10 Side Dishes to Pair With Meatballs Besides Spaghetti

There's so much more that can be done with meatballs.

Spaghetti and meatballs make for a fail-proof weeknight dinner that everyone will love. But it can get boring after a while. Change things next time you serve meatballs with these side dishes. Whether you&aposre going for classic Italian-style or Swedish meatballs or even barbeque meatballs, there&aposs a side on this list for you. Looking for a meatball main to go with one of these sides? Each side dish is paired with a recommended meatball dish for the perfect meatball dinner. Meatball night will never be boring or predictable again! Read on for our best side dishes to pair with meatballs.

"These potatoes are full of creamy sour cream, cream cheese, and buttery goodness contrasted with rich roast garlic. The texture is as delightful as the flavor combination," says recipe creator jenmannaz. Mashed potatoes are a classic pairing for meatballs, like these Grape Jelly Meatballs.

For a change from the usual plain rice or noodles, give this rice pilaf a try on the side of some Lamb Meatballs and Sauce. "On the surface it doesn&apost seem like this would be anything special. but it was. Not too boldly flavored, but not too plain or wimpy either. Just perfect in my mind. and I loved the additions of the red pepper and mushrooms," says reviewer naples34102.

This simple recipe is a different way to enjoy egg noodles with Chef John&aposs Swedish Meatballs. "This is a German recipe from my Grandmother. It&aposs cabbage that is lightly browned in butter and mixed with egg noodles and browned lightly for a wonderful, hearty, and fast dish," says recipe creator judi.

For a meatball meal that still has Italian flair, this Italian stew is a great side dish for some Italian Turkey Meatballs. Recipe creator SpiceBazaar says, "This recipe is a fabulous Italian stew. I love it because it is easy and fun to make, and you can have your kids help you with the chopping!"

"I was so happy to find this recipe! It&aposs nearly identical to one which was served in a restaurant where I used to work. The dish was called Thai Chicken," says reviewer COOKIECHICK. Udon noodles are tossed in a creamy peanut butter sauce, making a great side dish that&aposs best served with Thai Chicken Balls for flavorsome Thai cuisine at home.

This top-rated corn on the cob recipe is seasoned with spices and butter and then grilled for an easy, flavorful side. Along with some BBQ Meatballs, this is the perfect addition to any tailgate or backyard cookout.

This ratatouille is an amazing veggie companion to Chef John&aposs Italian Meatballs. It&aposs loaded with eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, and mascarpone cheese. "I have 10 picky kids and trying to get them to try something new is sometimes a chore in itself. ones that refuse to eat vegetables were asking for seconds," says reviewer chris.

"Every time my family and I go to a Chinese buffet we make a beeline for the green beans! This is a simple and tasty re-creation of that much loved side dish, goes well with any Asian meal," says recipe creator roweena. For a truly Asian-inspired dinner, serve it with Sweet and Sour Meatballs II.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (chuck or round)
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs (fine)
  • 1/4 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Dash ground allspice
  • 1 large egg ( beaten)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes (or equivalent amount for double strength broth)
  • 1/2 cup high quality dry red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Combine all meatball ingredients. Mix well and shape into 1-inch meatballs. Place in a large shallow baking dish bake at 400 F for 15 minutes.

In a saucepan, whisk the cornstarch and water. Add the bouillon cubes or beef base, red wine, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened. Add salt to taste, if necessary.

Combine the meatballs and sauce in a chafing dish or slow cooker and set it on low or warm for serving.

Serve the meatballs with toothpicks and provide small plates with napkins for the guests.

Food and Wine Pairings

Click here to view and print the Wine Guide that has a list of various food popular items, matched with red wine and white wine.. You may want to use this chart while you shop at the store, or at a restaurant.

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Recommend a New Pairing

Add a new pairing by entering a food name, and one or more wine varietals, separated by semi-colons, that pair well with the food.

Cabernet Sauvignon Meatballs

Featured by Cache Creek Vineyards and Winery in the Gold Wine Club.


Delicious on their own or over pasta, these meatballs are one-of-a-kind. Generous amounts of flavor are packed into each one and best served with a glass of Cache Creek Cabernet Sauvignon.

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes


For the Meatballs
• 2 lbs. extra-lean ground beef
• 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
• 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
• 2 eggs
• 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tsp. garlic salt
• 1/4 tsp. pepper
• Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce

For the Sauce:
• 1 (16-oz.) can whole cranberry sauce
• 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
• 2 tsp. spicy mustard

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For the Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a large shallow baking dish or pan. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, onion, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, and pepper mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place in one layer in prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes, turning once.

Remove from oven, drain grease from pan, and transfer cooked meatballs to a heated chafing dish or a crock pot/slow cooker pour prepared Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce over the meatballs. Over low heat, keep warm while serving, stirring occasionally.

For the Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce:
In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, add cranberry sauce, brown sugar, wine, and mustard stir to combine. Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

Listed below is an array of superb, medal-winning wines from our six exceptional Wine Clubs. Since 1992, we have been including recipes in our Gold Wine Club shipments for our members to enjoy with their selected wines. Take a look below and discover the perfect wine pairing for the recipe featured above!

Simple Meatballs and Cabernet Sauvignon Pairing

If you’re looking for a dish to pair with your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon look no further than these simple meatballs. Filled with fresh herbs and stuffed with two types of cheese, this recipe pairs perfectly with this rich red wine.

Why it works: Robust and fruit-forward Cabs are best for meatballs and any red sauce dishes. The bright acidity of the wine should match the acidity of the tomatoes, but should also be firmly structured enough to match this recipe.

  • 1 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups diced bread or breadcrumbs
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sliced Italian herbs (like parsley, oregano and basil)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Dusting of organic all-purpose flour, as needed
  • 2 cups favorite tomato sauce

In small saucepan over low heat, sauté onion, garlic and red pepper in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook slowly, covered, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, soak breadcrumbs in enough water to cover for 1 minute. Strain out excess liquid.

In a separate large bowl, beat eggs, then add ricotta, Parmesan, sautéed onion mixture and herbs. Mix thoroughly. Add meat and soaked breadcrumbs. Wearing gloves, mix meat and breadcrumbs with hands. Season with salt and pepper.

Shape mixture into balls slightly larger than golf ball. Refrigerate meatballs until chilled to ensure more even searing.

In large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat remaining 2 cups olive oil. Preheat oven to 350°F. Dust meatballs lightly with flour. Spread tomato sauce in baking dish.

Working in batches, brown meatballs on all sides in olive oil. Once browned, transfer meatballs to baking dish. After sautéing all meatballs, discard olive oil, reserving any pan drippings or browned meat remaining in pan and add to baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through. Serves 4.

Hearst Ranch 2016 Bunkhouse Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles) $32, 91 points. A refreshing approach to the grape, this bottling offers red currant and black plum alongside an earthy elegance of gravel and wood on the nose. It’s well balanced on the palate, with flavors of ripe red fruit, wood spice, dried herb and tobacco. —Matt Kettmann

6 Chef-Approved Meatball Recipes

Craving a heaping helping of simple, comforting meatballs? Drop by The Meatball Shop in Manhattan’s East Village for the “Daily Ball,” possibly the Reuben Balls with Thousand Island dressing.

Or, if you’re not in the neighborhood, click on the Web site and meet the Meatball Smash, two meatballs mashed on a brioche bun, and the daintier Meatball Slider, billed giddily as “three bites of sheer ecstasy, then they’re gone forever.” In another dish, called Everything But The Kitchen Sink Salad, meatballs are plopped on the chef’s selection of greenmarket veggies and lettuces—this is presumably for those on a diet.

Meatballs have rolled right into the spotlight. For reasons that won’t be explored here, they tend to be a guy chef kind of thing, but there’s often a grandmother in the picture.

“Everybody has some kind of good memory associated with meatballs,” says Chef Greg Hardesty of Recess in Indianapolis. “Every culture has a meatball and a sandwich made from a meatball, whether it’s wrapped in pita bread or a grape leaf.”

If you think about it, Hardesty makes a good point. There are Swedish meatballs in creamy gravy, spicy goat meat kofta from India, Lebanese ground beef and wheat bulgur kibbeh in yogurt-garlic sauce, oversized lion’s head pork meatballs (a Shanghai dish cooked with greens in a clay pot), tiny meatballs in a Neapolitan wedding soup, or fat ones floating in a brothy cilantro-scented Vietnamese pho. Meatballs happen to be hot right now, but they’re too good and too steeped in culinary tradition to ever go out of style.

The phenomenon is due in part to meatballs’ role as a practical (and delicious) way to use up humble meat scraps and fat. Perhaps meatballs deserve to share in the old wisecrack about sausage making and politics—the less you know about the process, the more you respect it. These days, however, discriminating chefs and cooks take pride in their meatball grind.

“The idea with the nose-to-tail movement is to select an animal that has been raised properly and then use it all,” says Hardesty. Chefs boast about the pedigree of the beef, lamb or pork used in their meatballs, while makers of frozen gourmet meatballs tout “all-natural” and additive-free ingredients.

Not surprisingly, red wines are recommended most often to stand up to the fat and full flavors of meatballs—Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Syrah are highly recommended to pair with the recipes that follow. At the Absinthe Brasserie and Bar in San Francisco, Executive Chef Adam Keough serves spicy rabbit meatballs that Wine Director Ian Becker recommends pairing with Montesecondo 2007 Chianti Classico: “The rustic tannins, savory red fruit tones and vibrant acidity of this very traditional Chianti Classico create a classic pairing,” he says.

At Prime Italian in Miami, softball-sized Kobe meatballs stuffed with sausage and ricotta find a perfect match in the EnRoute 2009 Les Pommiers Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. The wine’s elegant flavor and soft hints of cherry—not too big or bold—bring together the flavors of the dish.

White wines can come into play—but only when the “meat” is foregone. At Recess in Indianapolis, Hardesty serves ginger- and garlic-accented baby octopus meatballs with creamy hoisin vinaigrette, with which he suggests a white Burgundy, specifically Daniel Barraud 2008 La Verchère Vieilles Vignes Pouilly-Fuissé. “It has a nice minerality and citrus notes, just the right foil for the bold, fatty flavor of the octopus balls,” he says. Another favorite choice is Weingut Allram 2008 Strasser Gaisberg Riesling from Austria.

Start your own meatball medley, or expand your traditional repertoire with these great recipes for the meat lovers and vegetarians in your life.

We’ve all had the dry, dense meatball that sits like a brick in your stomach. And, with luck, you’ve had meltingly voluptuous meatballs, too. Some tricks from the pros for turning out masterful meatballs:

Use high-quality meat. The Meatball Shop lists sources of naturally raised beef, heritage pork and other meats used in the Manhattan restaurant’s balls. For your own, seek out top-drawer ground meat, ask the butcher to do a custom grind, or grind your own mix (see recipe).

The right ratio. The meat to lipid ratio must be balanced. The lipids need to moisturize and flavor the meatballs without overpowering and making the mix taste greasy,” says José Navarro, executive chef of d.vino Italian Food & Wine Bar at Monte Resort & Casino, Las Vegas. In other words, use enough fat, but not too much. For Chef Anthony Lamas of Seviche in Louisville, Kentucky, two parts lean to one part fat is the right formula: “Sometimes I add a little water, citrus juice or vinegar for moisture.”

Easy on other ingredients. “The binder for the meatballs should be just that— not a filler. We use baguettes soaked in milk and whole eggs,” says Navarro. Similarly, take care not to overdo seasonings such as herbs, spices, garlic and onion. It’s a good idea to fry a small patty from the seasoned mixture, taste and adjust seasoning before cooking the whole batch.

This family recipe is one that restaurateur Frank Scibelli features on the menu of his Charlotte, North Carolina, restaurant, Mama Ricotta. He suggests garnishing the dish with crostini topped with fresh mozzarella.

  • 4 slices white country bread, crusts removed and torn into 1-inch pieces.
  • ½ cup packed parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup packed sage leaves
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese
  • 6 slices (about ⅛ pound) imported prosciutto, chopped
  • ½ cup grated imported pecorino or Parmesan cheese, plus extra for shaving on top of the pasta
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup half and half (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season the pasta water, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1¼ pounds ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ¼ cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 3-4 cups marinara sauce

To make the meatballs: Preheat oven to 325°F. Place the bread, parsley and sage into a food processor and pulse to form medium-grain breadcrumbs, yields about 2 cups. Add the ricotta, prosciutto, pecorino, egg, half and half, salt and pepper and continue to pulse until just-blended.

In a medium bowl, combine the ground meat and the breadcrumb mixture and mix well. With your hands, form mixture into 2-inch meatballs, approximately 3 ounces each.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add several meatballs at a time, making sure not to overcrowd the pan and fry until golden brown on all sides. Transfer the seared meatballs to a baking dish and place in the preheated oven until the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

To cook the pasta: While the meatballs are baking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir to prevent sticking. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 5 minutes, and then drain.

In a medium pot, heat the marinara sauce and add in the pasta, tossing until coated.

To serve: Divide the pasta among plates or bowls. Top with two meatballs and grate fresh pecorino on top. Serves 6.

Serve this pan-Asian dish with steamed rice or with a warm piece of naan , a leavened flatbread of India. As for what to drink, go with a brew. A malty Tsingtao from China, a chilled Kirin from Japan or a citrus-scented Singha from India would all make for a winning pairing.

  • 1 pound ground beef chuck or bison
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallions, including green leaves
  • 1 heaping tablespoon pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup canola oil or sesame oil, for frying
  • 1 small head leaf lettuce, washed, core removed and leaves separated
  • Sriracha sauce, to taste

Combine the beef, scallions, pine nuts, sesame oil, soy sauce, egg and salt in a medium bowl and mix until well-incorporated. Using your hands, form mixture into 1½-inch meatballs

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Fry the meatballs on all sides until they’re golden brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes.

To serve, lay the lettuce leaves on a platter and place two meatballs in the center of each leaf. Sprinkle with Sriracha sauce and wrap the lettuce leaves around the meatballs. Serves 4.

Adapted from a recipe by David DiBari, chef-owner of The Cookery, Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Along with great beef, the starting point for this dish was Chef DiBari’s memory of his grandmother’s meatballs: “The lightest and most flavorful I’ve ever had,” he says. Two meatballs snuggle side by side under a blanket of spicy tomato sauce in a small casserole.

  • 6 ounces brioche or challah bread, or country-style white bread
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley (de-stem)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 pounds best-quality ground beef (such as top-grade chuck, brisket or a custom blend of brisket and short ribs)
  • 1 ½ cups grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • 3 cups homemade or prepared tomato sauce

Cut off bread crusts and slice bread in large cubes. Combine in a bowl with milk, turning cubes to moisten. While bread is soaking, place parsley leaves (2-3 cups) in a food processor. Roughly chop garlic and add to mix. Pulse until parsley and garlic are uniformly chopped. Add eggs and pulse briefly to blend.

Squeeze excess moisture from bread cubes, discarding liquid. Place bread in a large bowl and crumble beef into it. Add cheese, broth and pepper. Mix with hands until well blended. Because cheese and broth contain sodium, you may not need to add more salt.

To test, pull off a small piece of the mixture and fry in a sauté pan taste and add salt to entire mixture if needed.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread tomato sauce over the bottom of a rectangular baking pan. The meatball mixture will be too wet to form into spherical balls. Instead, shape them like footballs by scooping up about ¾ cup of the mixture and, holding your hands like cradles, turn meat from one to the other until it holds its shape. Gently drop meatball into the sauce. Continue with the remaining mixture, separating the meatballs in the pan.

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Cook until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is bubbly, about 40 minutes. (Meatballs will not be deeply browned—that’s O.K.)

To Serve: Using a large spoon, place 2 meatballs side by side on each of 6 plates. Spoon some of reduced tomato sauce over meatballs. Serves 6 (makes 12 meatballs).

Chef DiBari recommends a Tuscan Sangiovese-based blend such as Rodano 2009 Fattoria Poggialupi IGT. “A Chianti-style wine is always a good match for meat in tomato sauce—dry, with the big, bold fruit that’s needed,” he says.

Food and Wine Pairings

Click here to view and print the Wine Guide that has a list of various food popular items, matched with red wine and white wine.. You may want to use this chart while you shop at the store, or at a restaurant.

Food and Wine Online Pairing Quiz

Impress your friends with your knowledge!

Test your wine pairing skills with this Quiz.

Customize your website by adding this new wine pairing widget!

See the wine pairing gadget in action!

WinedIn is now available on your mobile!

Visit WinedIn Mobile using your mobile phone browser to lookup wine matchings for all your favorite foods.

Recommend a New Pairing

Add a new pairing by entering a food name, and one or more wine varietals, separated by semi-colons, that pair well with the food.

Baked Ziti with Meatballs

The aromas of the Ziti coming out of the oven will make your mouth water. With the hearty pasta, flavorful cheeses and fresh basil, this dish is a perfect pairing to this month's Signature Series. (Recipe courtesy of from Kathleen at

Pair with either of the Frazier Family Estate Winery 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon or the Margerum Wine Company 2010 Alondra de los Prados Vyd., Santa Ynez Valley Syrah.


1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup Romano cheese, grated and divided

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

all purpose flour, for dredging

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cups whole milk ricotta

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, julienned

2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the Romano cheese and the parsley, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add beef and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into bite-size meatballs. Roll each meatball in flour to coat, shaking off excess.

In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. If not using immediately, cover top with plastic wrap so that pasta does not dry out. Do not rinse pasta since you want to retain the pasta's natural starches so that the sauce will cling to the ziti.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When almost smoking, add meatballs in batches and without moving or turning the meat, allow it to brown for about 3 minutes. Turn meatballs and brown other side. Continue to cook until all sides are golden brown. Remove meatballs to a plate.

In a large bowl, combine the Marinara sauce and ricotta and mix well. Add the cooked ziti, fresh basil and meatballs and toss gently.

In a large greased baking dish (9 x 13 x 2 1/2 inch), pour in pasta mixture. Sprinkle the Mozzarella, Parmesan, and remaining Romano all over the top. Place baking dish on top of baking sheet covered with aluminum foil to collect any drippings from the dish. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Recommended Wine Pairings

Need a wine pairing suggestion for this recipe? Please call our wine club at 1-800-777-4443 to speak with our club's Personal Wine Consultants. You may also visit our wine club's wine store for a full list of available wines recently featured in our wine club.


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