"I'm making Seafood Fra Diavolo" was the text I received while cranking up My Chemical Romance as I worked up a sweat on the elliptical at my Jersey City gym. My first thought was, "Yay!" My friend Jordan is an accomplished seafood cook, and I was looking forward to his rendition of this spicy treat. "Fra Diavolo" is from the Italian "brother devil," and the dish is believed to have come from Italian immigrants in New York City in the early 20th century. The concoction of seafood - which can include a chef's choice of shrimp, calamari, lobster, and other fish - tomato sauce, and of course the element of heat, in this case from a few chopped dried Serrano chiles, is a powerful mouthful of flavor. So, my second thought was, "What wine will stand up to all that heat and flavor?"
Luckily I had a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco on hand, a 2005 Tabarrini. It's made from the Sagrantino grape, indigenous to Umbria, that is grown in Montefalco and several surrounding villages. I'm fascinated by small-production, unique wines, and this is one that is completely specific to its native land.
The dinner was great - our Fra Diavolo was a fun mix of interesting flavors, shapes, and textures: shrimp; small, sweet scallops; and cod. The Sagrantino did not shy away from the rich spicy flavors. It was like two Roman gladiators well-matched in the Coliseum. But these big boys weren't fighting each other. Unlike in Ancient Rome, the powers of Sagrantino & Seafood Fra Diavolo blended harmoniously, albeit with brashness.