Not a comparison that’s often made, but if the shoe fits…These island nations (Sardinia, but for a crack or a bend in history here or there, could be its own country or as likely part of some other country other than Italy) are heady, ancient amalgamations of indiginous and still incompletely understood cultures whose roots seem to elude the grasp of history, all of whom met their invaders with reactions ranging from chilly resentment to open hatred and organized, armed resistence.
But since we’re talking about food and drink in this space, here’s a specifically culinary parallel. As likely for reasons in common as ones that widely diverge, and that are too numerous and varied to go into here, both the Sardinians and the Irish are neither great sailors nor fishermen. Both places are blessed with hundreds of miles of coastline rippling out to deep waters embedded with fish, and both peoples make surprisingly little of use of this rich resource. In any event, this means that both cultures rely primarily on what the land and the shores (both the Sardi and the Irish traditionally eat lots of bivalves) give them for their nutrition. So in the case of Sardinia, the chief proteins are porcine and ovine, and if there’s any aquatic element at the dinner table at all, it’s most likely to be something like mussels, clams, or langoustines, not deep-water, finned fish.
So the landlubbering Mediterranean menu was as follows: Gnocchetti Sardi (like little cavatelli) with a smooth tomato/vegetable/ricotta sauce, and then fried impanadas, which are indeed empanadas (the Catalans, Castillians, Aragonese have all added their names to Sardinia’s (unwanted) guest list) but stuffed with ground lamb, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and saffron. A green salad with celery and cucumbers made a nice foil.
The wine was a Carignano del Sulcis from southern Sardinia, which is indeed none other than Carignan, and which the very proud Sardi make a good claim to being native to their sunny, rocky island, but that too is something for another time.
Cantina Mesa Carignano del Sulcis “Buio” 2009
Bluish-black medium garnet color. Clean and complex nose of briar root, dried herbs, cherry and strawberry fruit, soy sauce and dark, brick oven bread crust. In the mouth, the wine is medium-full bodied with an energetic, rippling texture and a dense resilient core that gives way to elegant sweet and sour dried black cherry, black currant, and blueberry fruit flavors with hints of licorice and vanilla. Soft and very warm finish. Rusticity with a lustrous polish.