Grape Experiences, Cindy Rynning, Feb. 2019

Grape Experiences, Cindy Rynning, Feb. 2019

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Taste Uruguay: 1752 Gran Tradicion Montevideo 2017 and Pasta with Caruso Sauce

Once a month, the merry band of #winePW folk gather on Twitter and share delicious recipes with compelling wine pairings related to a common theme. This month our dedicated group are delving into the wines and food of Uruguay and I couldn’t be more excited. Unfamiliar with this country’s culture, I explored and discovered unique deliciousness to sip and savor.



One of the most important takeaways from my research is this: cuisine in Uruguay expresses national and international flavors. The asado, with its mainstay of beef, prevails at most gatherings, empanadas gallegas, a fish pie with tuna, onions, and bell peppers from Galician immigrants, and pasta in all forms is a national dish, thanks to the influx of Italian immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Other dishes guided by European explorers include a type of blood sausage cooked with orange fruit and walnuts and a veal-breaded cutlet much like a German Wienershnitzel. Interested in more foods from Uruguay? Click here.


During the past few years, wines from Uruguay have garnered attention and the number of wineries continues to increase. Its moderate climate, clay soil, abundant sunshine throughout the year, and average amount of rainfall result in a winegrowing area that is flourishing. Vineyards are found on rocky hillsides or on gently sloping plains, not unlike those found in France.

Plantings of Tannat in Uruguay are on the rise and now, this country is thought to be the second “most notable Tannat region” after Madiran, France. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec are also cultivated. White grapes found in Uruguay include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Viognier, and Gewurtztraminer, the variety that has adapted particularly well to the soil and climate of Uruguay. For more about wine in Uruguay, click here.

With so many Uruguayan food and wine choices, it was a challenge to choose the pairing. Thanks to the generous wine team at Bodega Cerro Chapeu, however, I received a sample of 1752 Gran Tradicion Montevideo 2017 ($17), a complex, full bodied blend of 90% Petit Manseng and 10% Viogner. And the recipe to complement this fascinating wine? I made a delicious national specialty: Uruguayan Pasta with Caruso Sauce.


Uruguay wine


Bodega Cerro Chapeu traces its roots in the wine industry back ten generations to 1752 in Catalonia, Spain. The Carrau family, always at the forefront of innovation, were enticed by Uruguay’s introduction to the idea of using Tannat grapes to create a distinctive style of wine. In 2005, winemaker Dr. Francisco Carrau and his team launched the wines in the United States. Cerro Chapeu estate, selected during the 1970s, is comprised of 40 year-old vines cultivated on deep red sandy soils with excellent drainage. Because of the temperate and continental climate and location,1000 feet above sea level, Uruguay’s first virus-free clonal varieties imported from California and France, were planted.

And the dish! Due to the strong Italian influence in Uruguay, I was intrigued with the story behind Uruguayan Pasta with Caruso Sauce. Legend suggests that the sauce was created in 1915 in order to impress Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso who visited the country. Another belief is that the sauce was devised in the 1950s by Raymundo Monti of restaurant “Mario and Alberto” in Montivideo as an homage to the famous tenor. Whichever is the case, Caruso Sauce has become a resounding success and is now considered “part of the Uruguayan cultural heritage”. The Uruguayan Cuisine Association strongly encourages every restaurant to include it on their menu. It will continue to be on mine!

Made with cream, fresh mushrooms, salty ham, and cheese, the Caruso sauce is often served with a stuffed ravioli or cappelletti, small pasta shells surrounding some sort of meat. However, I chose to blanket orecchiette pasta with the rich, dense sauce. The pasta, cooked al dente, and savory, salty ingredients presented a creamy texture when combined; they were a brilliant pairing with the wine. The 1752 Gran Tradicion Montevideo 2017 burst with beautiful aromas of stone fruit, dried apricots, and lemon. On the rich and full palate, mouthwatering acidity framed notes of overripe tropical fruit, lime, spice, and white pepper. The persistent finish offered juicy fruit and spice and gave a magnificent counterpoint to the salt and savory notes of the Uruguayan Pasta with Caruso Sauce. This duo will be repeated for my guests and family again, to be sure.


Uruguay Pasta with Caruso Sauce

Uruguayan Pasta with Caruso Sauce



  • 1lb pasta (orecchiette or another shell-like shape)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup smoked deli ham, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon beef bouillon, about 3 cubes, or to taste
  • 2 cups milk or cream
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • parsley to garnish


Step 1
In a heavy skillet, saute chopped onion in the olive oil until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Step 2
Add sliced mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms have browned and most of the water is evaporated. Stir in ham and set aside.
Step 3
Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
Step 4
While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour. Cook over medium heat until just bubbly.
Step 5
Add milk slowly to the saucepan, stirring. Add bouillon. Continue to heat milk, stirring with a whisk, until sauce thickens and just starts to come to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses. Stir in sauteed mushrooms and onions.
Step 6
Drain pasta well. Ladle sauce over pasta and serve.


Cheers! ~ Cindy

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