Drinks

Get These Natural Wines Delivered at Home to Pair with Pantry Staples

Jodie Battles, one of Boston's most notable wine directors, shares essential tips for livening up dinner at home.


Liven up your pantry dinners at home with sommelier-selected natural wine pairings, delivered to your door. / Photo by Jacqueline Cain

Week two of the Bay State’s stay-at-home mandate is almost behind us—and I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty darn bored of my own cooking. I’ve been safely picking up the occasional takeout order, and I even got some beer to go from a local brewery. Most nights, though, dinner for my partner and myself has consisted of taking rice or pasta—plus whatever produce and protein I have in the fridge or freezer—all pulled together with a can of beans, diced tomatoes, or broth. Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful to have continued access to healthy food, and a paycheck coming in so I can still afford it. But compared to my usual routine—which might mean checking out the Back Bay’s newest hotspot after work, or popping by my neighborhood wine shop to get something to complement a new at-home recipe flush with fresh herbs—I’m craving more.

In the spirit of livening up dinner at home, we tapped certified wine specialist Jodie Battles to pick natural wines to pair with simple recipes built on pantry staples. The beverage director for Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette’s restaurants Toro, Coppa, and Little Donkey, Battles is on the forefront of Boston’s natural wine scene, and she shares selections that are currently available from select Boston retailers via limited local delivery. Read on to find the perfect red to complement yet another plate of spaghetti with red sauce; the right white to complement a coconut-milk curry; and even where to find an orange wine to pair with the tinned fish you bought to remind yourself that yes, beautiful bars still exist—and someday we’ll be back out there to support them.

Coconut Milk Curry
Pair with: Laurent Bannwarth Pinot Gris “Tradition,” Alsace, France (2018)

“These are staples in our household—both the curry dish and wines from this region of France,” Battles says. This particular white wine is “such a great example of a varietal purity from Alsace,” she continues, as it uses 100 percent biodynamically grown pinot gris. The grapes yield soft acid, balanced with a hint of residual sugar—somewhat similar to a Riesling in that way—with notes of white fruit, honeysuckle, melon, and spice. “The touch of sweetness, lower [alcohol-by-volume] and ripe fruit profile make for an ideal balance against curry spices and the creaminess of the coconut milk,” Battles says.

Buy it: Available via Violette Imports by email, Instagram, or phone order for pickup and limited local delivery. 1 Belmont St., Cambridge, 617-876-4125, violettewine.com.

White Bean or Chickpea Hummus
Pair with: Populis Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County, California (2019)

The vines that grew the grapes for this wine are some of the oldest sauvignon blanc plantings in all of California, dating to the 1940s. “The old vines definitely give this wine complexity, layers and depth,” Battles says. “There’s some ripe citrus and stone fruit, a touch of greenness and crazy, zippy acidity the whole way through.” It’s a perfect foil to the creamy simplicity of the dip. “I absolutely love these dudes,” Battles adds, about the farmers who work with organic vineyards around the Golden State and employ minimal production techniques to produce their juices.

Buy it: Available via Olmstead Wine Co. at Social Wines, by email or phone order for curbside pickup and free delivery in Cambridge (617-225-0040) and South Boston (617-268-2974). 52 W. Broadway, South Boston; 196 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, socialwinesbos.com.

Tuna Conserva or Other Tinned Fish
Pair with: Day Wines Vin de Days l’Orange, Willamette Valley, Oregon (2019)

“While there is such a range of flavors when it comes to orange/skin contact wines, I really enjoy this style when it comes to conservas,” Battles says. It’s a new release this year from the recent James Beard Award semifinalist, Brianne Day, the founding winemaker and owner of the boutique bottler, which Battles typically loves to add to her restaurant menus. A blend of Muller-Thurgau, riesling, and gewurztraminer grapes, it gets three weeks of skin contact fermentation, which results in a fragrant, textured wine, fresh but also slightly smoky. “It would work against simple conservas in olive oil, or even with some bolder flavors,” Battles says.

Buy it: Available via Charles River Wine Co. at Social Wines, by email or phone order for curbside pickup and free delivery in Cambridge (617-225-0040) and South Boston (617-268-2974). 52 W. Broadway, South Boston; 196 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, socialwinesbos.com.

Red Sauce with Pasta
Pair with: Meinklang Burgenland Red, Burgenland, Austria (2018)

“This is another beloved, biodynamic producer we work with as much as possible,” Battles says. This particular vintage is a blend of Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent grapes, “done with some carbonic maceration, which preserves the freshness of this wine,” Battles explains, noting the resulting flavors are of “brambly red fruits, and some forest-floor kind of earthiness.” It is medium-bodied, with the right amount of structure and acid to match up against the acid of a tomato-based sauce.

Buy it: Available via Olmstead Wine Co. at Social Wines, by email or phone order for curbside pickup and free delivery in Cambridge (617-225-0040) and South Boston (617-268-2974). 52 W. Broadway, South Boston; 196 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, socialwinesbos.com.

Pantry Chili
Pair with: Gurrieri, Donna Grazia Frappato, Sicily, Italy (2018)

When Coppa is able to welcome diners into its lively South End dining room, “you can often find at least a couple of [the Italian producer, Gurrieri’s] wines on our list.” This one is made of entirely Frappato grapes, and produced entirely in stainless steel. The process “really allows for the beauty of this varietal and the Sicilian terroir to shine,” Battles says. “There’s dusty berries, graphite and a kiss of flowers. It’s elegant and pretty light, but still super complex. I’ve found this wine works so well when paired with any range of dishes—from spicy to earthy to acidic. So, no matter what spices or canned goods you have on hand, this is a sure thing to drink along a one-pot meal like chili.”

Buy it: Available via Mucci Imports at Social Wines, by email or phone order for curbside pickup and free delivery in Cambridge (617-225-0040) and South Boston (617-268-2974). 52 W. Broadway, South Boston; 196 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, socialwinesbos.com.

Peanut Butter & Jelly
Pair with: Fatalone “Teres” Primitivo, Puglia, Italy (2019)

This is technically a light red wine, made from free run (the juice from freshly picked grapes before they are pressed) from the second-bud harvest of primitivo, which sits on the dark skins of the grapes for a little bit of time. “But it totally drinks like a rosato, and screams to be served chilled,” Battles says. “It’s a vibrant wine with a beautiful color that screams spring, as does the flavor profile: fresh with juicy strawberries, red currants, raspberries and some rhubarb,” she continues. “These flavors perfectly compliment the sweetness of whatever kind of jelly you might have on hand and the acidity and freshness of the wine cuts through the rich, fattiness of the peanut butter.”

Buy it: Available via Violette Imports by email, Instagram, or phone order for pickup and limited local delivery. 1 Belmont St., Cambridge, 617-876-4125, violettewine.com.