Wine’s Quiet Role in the Taste of Bolognese Sauce

On October 24, 2015, the largest bowl of pasta weighing 7900 kg was cooked in Poland. Forty chefs worked for 19 hours to prepare this pasta dish, they added Bolognese wine to the pasta and served it to over 10,000 people.  Spaghetti Bolognese is a savoury pasta dish traditionally made with meat and tomato sauce. It is a classic that is enjoyed by many around the world and has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome.

Traditional Italian Comfort

As a traditional Italian comfort, there are endless variations and specifications as every family has their own way of making it. While each recipe is different, they all rely on the same fundamental ingredients, with the sauce typically made of celery, carrots, garlic, onions, ground beef, and canned tomatoes and the pasta made with eggs, flour, and milk. Some alternative variations of this dish also use pancetta, mushrooms, and peas.

The original dish was actually produced without spaghetti. The sauce has been around for centuries and is one of the most famous pasta sauces in the world, with many different origin stories.  Some trace it back to Naples and Rome. In Italian cuisine, the sauce is named Ragu, a term that originated from the French word Ragout which means meat stewed with vegetables cooked over low flame.  It was brought to Italy by Napoleon’s soldiers in 1773 when he invaded the country.

The first evidence of the recipe for the sauce was found in a cookbook by Alberto Alvisi, a cook from Imola—a town near Bologna. Pellegrino Artusi wrote the recipe for sauce in 1891. He prepared the dish with ingredients like vail meat, onions, and sauté pork belly and named it Maccheroni alla Bolognese. The sauce came to Britain and America centuries later, when Soldiers who had been doing their service in Italy brought it back with them to their home countries after World War II.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese, also known as Bolognese sauce, is a simple pasta sauce traditionally made with beef and pork, but can also be made with other meats, such as chicken, veal, or even a combination. One of the reasons the dish is so popular is the red wine that is used in the sauce, which acts as a vital ingredient. Italian wines, like Italian Chianti and Sangiovese, are considered the best wines to use as ingredients in this dish.

Bolognese sauce is known in Italy as Ragù alla Bolognese or simply Ragù.

Interestingly, using wine does not add a special taste or flavour to the sauce but instead just allows the flavour of the other ingredients to be enhanced. When adding wine to Bolognese, it is essential that the sauce is cooked for enough time so that it even reaches the point of being overcooked and the sauce reduces to half and the wine disappears. In order to achieve this, do not cover the pan while the sauce is cooking.

Want to read more about wine? Try reading this book!

Ragu Bolognese Cookbook: The SECRET RECIPE and More of America’s Favorite Italian Dishes

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