Primitivo & Food Pairings

Primitivo is an Italian grape used extensively in the Puglia region of Italy.  DNA testing recently showed that Primitivo is the same grape as Zinfandel.

map of Puglia

Primitivo isn’t super jammy like a Californian Zinfandel, nor is it quite as rich.  However, it is an easy drinking red with warm flavours of plum, dried cherries, and is soft in tannin.  The wine differs due to climate, as well as differences in the old world vs new world wine-making processes.

Some people complain that Primitivo is a little low in character and complexity and high in alcohol.  To combat this, Italian winemakers often age Primitivo in small oak barrels, as well as take extra care in the vineyards so the grapes do not become overripe.

Primitivo is medium bodied red that is plush, low in tannin, and almost syrupy.  Due to the lack of tannin, it pairs well with anything tomato based such as spaghetti bolognese, veal parmigiana, chicken cacciatore, and pizza (especially with crumbled sausage).  It is also quite lovely with earthy vegetables like mushrooms, onions, capers, and eggplant.  For an excellent cheese pairing, pick dry and firm cheeses like Pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Primitivo is the Italian equivalent of California’s Zinfandel, but with a little more Italian flair. Generally, Primitivo is much more acidic that Zinfandel, which makes it an excellent choice with tomato-based dishes. There is also less alcohol in Primitivo than Zinfandel, making this a more suitable wine for afternoon lunches.   Below are four of our top choices.

Eggplant Parmesan

Primitivo Red Wine and Eggplant Parmesan Pairing

Primitivo is an excellent match for Eggplant Parmesan as the acidity in the wine takes away some of the bitterness of the Eggplant. Primitivo, as mentioned above, goes well with the tomato sauce involved with this dish as the wine will brighten the flavours of the sauce rather than flattening it.

Hamburgers and Primitivo

Primitivo and Hamburgers are a very good food and wine combination. Primitivo has quite a bit of acidity and is very refreshing, especially if your hamburgers are a little dried out. Primitivo has sweet a sweet tannin flavour, as it richer and natural sugars and flavour, making Primitivo refreshing as well, livening up your hamburger much like ketchup would.

Pizza with Sausage and Red Wine Pairing

Primitivo is an excellent wine match for Pizza with sausage. Primitivo is acidic enough to handle the tomato sauce on your pizza pie, as well as the spiciness of the sausage you might put on. Wines that are high in tannin and alcohol do not go well with spicy foods as they make the spice taste even hotter.

Baked Beans and Wine Pairing

Primitivo is excellent with Baked Beans in a tomato sauce. Again the acidic Primitivo will brighten the lively tomato sauce flavours livening up this simple dish. Primitivo is an excellent Red Wine to bring camping for how it well it goes with Baked Beans by the campfire. Furthermore, it’s got enough alcohol to warm you up at night, but not so much to give you a hangover in the morning.


Notable Producers of Primitivo

Apollonio, Calatrasi, Cantele, Danese, Felline, and Pervini all make excellent Primitivo.

Do you have a favourite Primitivo and Food pairing? Let us know in the comments below!

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