Meatball Sub with Wine

I love romance.  The idea of surprising someone special with an experience they won't forget has always been like an adventure for me.  After 8 months of dating, Brandon's birthday rolled around.  I decided to send him on a treasure hunt around town looking for clues that ultimately led to a restaurant where his mom, fresh off the plane from Seattle, and I awaited his arrival.  I hired a limo driver to pick him up and take him to each locale, that eventually led him to the next spot.  I used places like where we had our first date and where we met to pick up clues.  Everything went off without a hitch and I was extremely proud of myself.  So when I decided to attempt my next romantic endeavor, I was beaming with confidence.  This time, I decided to turn up the sex appeal and cook dinner for him with nothing but an apron and thigh-high black boots on.  I'm a decent cook but since I wanted the meal to be extra special, I stopped at a local Italian restaurant and ordered meatballs to add to my sauce.  I decided I wouldn't say anything about picking up the meatballs and just play them off as my own.  When he arrived home from work, you can imagine the look on his face seeing candles lit everywhere and me in my sexy get-up.  He wasn't necessarily in the mood to eat, but played along anyway.  One bite of the meatballs and he exclaims "Wow babe, these are really good!  Why haven't you made them before?"  I should have just been honest but instead I gave a deflecting answer, "I'm happy you like it, honey," with a slight grin on my face.  I don't think I've ever told him that I purchased those meatballs from a restaurant.  But since I've never made them again, I'm sure he knows.  Or at least, now he does!

I wish I could remember what wine I poured for Brandon with this meal.  One thing I've learned over the years of trying all sorts of wines with an array of foods is that hands down, food and wine from the same place just work together.  Now, I don't think that the Italians invented a meatball sub, but the sauce is the component that stands out the most in this dish.  Therefore, I'm going to look for a wine that will not only work with the weight of the meal, but ultimately, a wine that will work with the sauce.  Nero d' Avola is a super hot, trendy varietal from the town of Avola in Sicily.  It's a rich, full-bodied red filled with herbs and spice.  Many compare Nero d' Avola to Shiraz from Australia because of its smooth tannins and plum, peppery notes.  What Italian wines have that many other red wines don't, is a ton of juicy acidity.  For meals based on tomatoes, you need a wine with enough acidity to match the acid in the food.  After a bite of the meatball sub and then a sip of the wine, I love how both are spicy, smooth and slightly sweet.  The wine heightens the spice found in the food and has enough acidity to wash all the flavors off the palate.  I usually just sample a pairing, but this was so good I ate the entire thing!  Cheers!

Wine featured in this photo: 2007 Caruso & Minini Nero d' Avola (88 points Wine Enthusiast)