My Summer Sludgy, Delicious Ritual and The Wines To Drink Alongside

Making fresh pesto with basil from my garden is a favorite summer ritual of mine.  I have been making it for, literally, decades. Once my plants get big enough that I can snip off fists full of those bright green, aromatic leaves, I start making as many batches as possible, until the plant throws its energy into flowers instead of those glorious, flavor-filled leaves.

If you lean in closely, I bet you can smell their pungent, intense aroma!

After washing the leaves I combined them in a food processor with lots of garlic and roughly chopped walnuts.  I have always used walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts, because I prefer the chunkier texture.

I poured in top quality olive oil, then stirred in fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Voila!  Beautiful, green, sludgy deliciousness!

I put the pesto over spiral pasta, letting it settle in clumps in the spirals. And, since pesto is of Italian origin, I opened two Italian wines to pour with it.

I chose the Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna produced by Argiolas, because I was having asparagus and hoped it would pair with both the asparagus spears and the pesto.

If you have never tasted the wines of Sardinia, an island off the western coast of Italy, then get yourself to my store and buy some! Argiolas is the largest wine estate on the island and cultivates many native Sardinian grapes. This Vermentino is an aromatic white variety, native to Sardinia, produced in stainless steel tanks to maintain those vibrant aromas and fresh flavors.


The aromatics are fresh and ripe, with tropical fruit, peaches and pears along with some white pepper.

On the palate, this wine is so fresh and inviting!  The fruits are ripe pear and peach with a lovely mineral note.  The finish is clean and dry with a little hit of spice and fresh acidity. The salty prosciutto paired nicely with the wine’s acid and the minerality mingled comfortably with the green vegetable notes of the asparagus.

The clean character of the Vermentino was a nice contrast to the richness of the pesto pasta, and I liked two highly aromatic components together. But the vibrant fruits were a better match with the salty prosciutto-wrapped asparagus.

I opened a red wine, too.  Of course I did.  This Giancarlo Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is light and clean with pleasant acidity. I hoped it would be a nice combination with the heavy richness of the pesto pasta.The Montepulciano grape comes from the rural Abruzzi region of Italy where it makes a soft wine filled with red fruits, typically found at a very reasonable price.


Aromas from this wine are surprisingly layered with dried fruits and herbs, forest floor, some plum and a little smoke.

The palate is quite different than aromas with cranberry and red plum, just a hint of dried herbs, and some tart raspberry on the finish. Not much for dried fruits or herbs, just ripe red fruits in a pleasant body. The finish is dry and clean.

There were just enough earthy notes in the Montepulciano to mingle with the plant-based pesto, and as I had hoped, its bright, clean character was a good contrast to the rich, fatty pesto sauce.


My favorite summer ritual of making pesto was made even more enjoyable with a glass of each wine at the table!


A wine drinker seeking new, affordable wines to try;

Pairing with pesto-making (and eating!) or other summer rituals;

A wine drinker who prefers a dry style wine, filled with pleasant fruits.



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