Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese
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About This Recipe

Ah, Spaghetti Bolognese with red wine! This classic dish might seem traditionally Italian, but with a hint of Napa Valley expertise, it undergoes a delightful transformation. Infused with red wine spaghetti magic, this valley chef's rendition goes beyond the ordinary, introducing a unique twist that celebrates the bond between red wine and pasta.

Delving into the creation of this masterpiece, an authentic red wine for bolognese sauce demands nothing but the finest ingredients. Lucky for us, Napa offers an abundance. Places like the Oxbow Public Market overflow with farm-fresh produce. Envision tomatoes, perfect for wine tomato sauce, so juicy they're on the brink of bursting, coupled with sun-kissed basil, and, without question, the best of locally-sourced beef or pork. Emphasizing health and flavor, opting for grass-fed, free-range meats makes all the difference in this quick bolognese sauce.

While most might lean towards an Italian red for their red pasta sauce with wine, I find joy in integrating a dash of California's Carignan. Although not the most common, labels from regions like Lodi, Mendocino, and Sonoma are crafting some truly remarkable Carignans. Their richness and hint of spice harmonize seamlessly with the robust flavors of the bolognese sauce.

An equally splendid choice is the Zinfandel from Matthiasson. With each sip, it captivates the very essence of Napa, elevating your pasta in red wine sauce experience to mirror that of a gourmet restaurant.

Once the star dish, our red wine spaghetti, is set, attention must be paid to complementary side dishes. Think of a crunchy salad sprinkled with parmesan and a tangy lemon vinaigrette. Add in freshly baked sourdough from Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, and voilà! A feast that any Napa Valley home chef would beam with pride over.

Immerse yourself in a Napa summer evening, with vineyards painted in golden hues, and indulge in this luxurious yet uncomplicated dinner on your porch. This bolognese with red wine encapsulates the region's charm, serving as an emblem of fine dining that's both opulent and humble. To round off? A rose-infused panna cotta or a refreshing lemon sorbet, drawing inspiration from the Silverado Trail's scenic orchards.

Should you find yourself in Napa, the Silverado Trail promises more than just breathtaking views. Interspersed with wineries, you'll stumble upon artisanal boutiques and eateries. Many even offer curated chef recipe sessions, ensuring you're always in sync with Napa's culinary best.

Beyond the vineyards and exquisite wines, Napa stands as an embodiment of a lifestyle—a tapestry woven with nature's beauty, rich history, and culinary genius. So, when the allure of a genuine recipe or a curated wine menu beckons, let the memory of this red wine spaghetti bolognese guide you. A fusion of Napa's spirit, Italian flair, and boundless affection.

In parting, a nugget of wisdom from our valley chef: Never let your table miss a bottle from a cherished local vineyard. Be it an avid wine enthusiast or a culinary novice, Napa's wine remains its beating heart. And with every dish, you're one step closer to home.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Napa Valley Red Wine

Napa Valley, California, is revered worldwide for its pristine vineyards and exceptional wines. Integrating a splash of this high-quality red wine into our Spaghetti Bolognese transforms an already delicious dish into a gourmet experience. When you add Napa Valley red wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, you're not just introducing alcohol but a depth of flavor, nuanced aromas, and a hint of the Valley's sun-soaked terroir. This wine doesn't just add moisture; it contributes a robust richness that can't be replicated. The wine's tannins tenderize the meat, and its acidity balances the tomato's sweetness, creating a harmony of flavors in the Bolognese sauce.

How To Perfectly Sauté Your Vegetables

Perfectly sautéed vegetables are key to building a flavor base for any Bolognese sauce. Here's a step-by-step guide to ensure you nail it every time:

  1. Heat Your Pan: Begin by warming your pan over medium heat. A properly heated pan ensures even cooking and prevents sticking.
  2. Add Oil: Pour in your olive oil. Wait for it to shimmer, indicating it's hot and ready.
  3. Veggies In: Add your finely chopped onions, diced carrots, and celery. The order matters less since they all have similar cooking times.
  4. Stir Regularly: This prevents burning and ensures an even cook.
  5. Watch For Softening: After about 5 minutes, your vegetables should be softened and slightly translucent, especially the onions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can I substitute the wine with something non-alcoholic? Absolutely! If you prefer not to use wine, you can replace it with beef or vegetable broth and a splash of balsamic vinegar for some acidity.
  2. Is there a vegetarian alternative to the ground meat? Yes, lentils or finely chopped mushrooms make excellent meat substitutes in terms of texture and flavor.
  3. How do I store leftovers? You can store leftover Spaghetti Bolognese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze the sauce separately from the pasta for up to 3 months.
  4. What if I’m gluten intolerant? There are many gluten-free spaghetti options available in stores, made from ingredients like rice, corn, or quinoa. Just ensure you check the label!
  5. Can I use fresh herbs instead of dried ones? Certainly! If you're using fresh herbs, triple the quantity of the dried version. So, instead of 1 tsp dried basil, use about 1 tbsp of fresh basil, finely chopped.

Tips for Success

  1. Quality Ingredients Matter: Always opt for high-quality, fresh ingredients. Fresh vegetables and high-quality meat play a significant role in the taste and texture of the Bolognese sauce. And remember, a top-tier Napa Valley red wine will always elevate the dish!
  2. Let It Simmer: The longer your Bolognese sauce simmers, the richer and more flavorful it becomes. If time permits, consider letting it simmer for longer than 30 minutes. This deepens the flavors and makes for a more luxurious sauce.
  3. Pair with The Same Wine: For an authentic and harmonious dining experience, serve your Spaghetti Bolognese with the same Napa Valley red wine you've used in the sauce. This ensures complementary flavors and a true wine country experience.

Remember, cooking is both an art and a science. Trust the process, make it with love, and enjoy the essence of Napa Valley in every bite of this Spaghetti Bolognese.

Recipe Overview

Spaghetti Bolognese
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 400g (14 oz) spaghetti
  • 500g (1.1 lb) ground beef or a mix of beef and pork
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 can (400g/14 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 150ml (⅔ cup) Napa Valley red wine (like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • Fresh basil or parsley, chopped, for garnish

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, sautéing until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
  3. Add the ground meat to the pan, breaking it apart with a spatula. Cook until browned.
  4. Pour in the red wine and let it reduce for about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, dried oregano, and dried basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
  7. While the sauce is simmering, cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain.
  8. Serve the bolognese sauce over the cooked spaghetti. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped basil or parsley.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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