Pair It Up! Eggplant and Country Ham Ragù

I was reading through Bon Appétit Magazine's 2015 edition of America's Best Restaurants and checking out recipes from their list of the ten rising stars in the US culinary landscape. They've chosen some incredible-looking restaurants like the Korean joint Parachute in Chicago, with their oh-so photogenic Steak-and-Eggs Bibimbap, or the clean, bright space in San Francisco's Mission District called AL's Place, where chef Aaron London has been wowing diners since the doors opened.

One spot that really caught my eye is in small town North Carolina where restaurant veterans Joe and Katy Kindred have returned from city life to open Kindred. Out of all the 30 recipes that Bon Appétit published alongside the American's Best Restaurants feature, it was the Eggplant and Country Ham Ragù from Kindred that I kept returning to. Not only does the pile of twisted and saucy noodles look completely mouthwatering, the recipe also includes a range of savoury and spicy ingredients that will make for a fun wine partner.

The recipe brings together all kinds of flavours like eggplant, ham, cocoa, and the spice and smokiness of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I think a great way to go with a pairing is to find a big, juicy red that can match the intensity of flavours while at the same time complementing the spice and cocoa notes.

A wine like the 2014 Fortissimo from La Stella—think of it as Osoyoos's take on a Super Tuscan—a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese Grosso. If you're feeling like you really want to splash out for a special occasion, check out their flagship made from 100% Merlot: La Stella 2012 Maestoso. Or, if it's the opposite of a special occasion and you're looking for a value pick, head over to Niagara for the 13th Street Winery 2014 Burger Blend, a juicy and spicy blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir.

2014 Fortissimo         2012 Maestoso         2014 Burger Blend

Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.