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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Rigatoni alla Vodka with pancetta & 2020 Daou Solomon Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir

(Photo by Carlos Sarmiento)

Nothing brings the family or friends who are like family together like a good pasta night.

Pasta alla vodka has been a dish I have been waiting to make for quite some time. The addition of some crispy pancetta pieces elevates the dish and provides a perfect textural dynamic to the final presentation.

For the wine pairing, I opted for an elegant and full bodied Pinot Noir from Daou Vineyards. Just right!

Let‘s get cooking!

Menu: Rigatoni alla Vodka with pancetta and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Wine pairing: 2020 Daou Solomon Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley, California)

Serves 4-6


  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes

  • 5 cloves minced garlic

  • ½ cup yellow onion cut into fine dice

  • ½ cup pancetta small dice

  • ¼ cup vodka

  • ¾ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 – 2 tbls olive oil

  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (depending on your preference for spice)

  • 1 pound rigatoni

  • 8 fresh basil leaves cut chiffonade (This should not be done until the end of the cooking process.)

  • salt and pepper


  • Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and break them up with your hands into small pieces. Remove any skins if they were left on the tomatoes.

  • In a large saucepan, pour in olive oil and set to medium to heat up. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the pancetta and cook until browned (about 4 minutes). Remove the pancetta from the pan and reserve as a garnish for later.

  • Add the onions and garlic to the pan and season well with salt.

  • On a large pot filled 3/4 ways with boiling water, add about 1 tablespoon of salt and then add the pasta to the boiling water and set the timer for 1 minute short of the recommended cooking time.

  • Returning to the sauce pan, r

  • Stir sauce regularly as the sauce cooks over the medium high heat. Make sure that it does not begin to burn on the pan bottom. If the sauce appears to be reducing too quickly, lower the heat to medium.

  • About the same time that the pasta is done, add the cream to the sauce and stir to combine. Season the vodka sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Drain your pasta completely and quickly rinse out the pot and dry.

  • Move the pot onto a medium heat and continue cooking for one minute. Remove from the heat and stir well.

  • Allow the pasta and sauce to sit in the pot for two more minutes, stirring from time to time. This allows the pasta to absorb and integrate with the sauce.

  • While the pasta is resting, cut your basil.

  • Garnish with basil chiffonade, browned pancetta and a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Serve it up!

This generous meal is meant to be served family style on a large platter. I guarantee you that there won't be leftovers.

Don't forget to garnish with basil chiffonade, browned pancetta and a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Buon apetito! Enjoy!

(Photo by Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo by Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo by Carlos Sarmiento)

(Photo by Carlos Sarmiento)

About the wine…

This limited-edition Pinot Noir comes exclusively from the famed Solomon Hills Vineyard, the westernmost vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, just 11 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

In 2020, a blockbuster vintage only elevated this pedigree, producing a wine that delivers deep concentration with balance and elegance.

This single-vineyard selection hails from the famed Solomon Hills Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. This vineyard was planted in the 1990s by the Miller family—the family behind the legendary Bien Nacido Vineyard.

Solomon Hills has since emerged as their crown jewel, and is renowned producing Pinot Noirs of elegance, richness and length.

2020 Daou Solomon Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley, California)

(Photo by Carlos Sarmiento)

Tasting notes:

Exquisite flavors of cola, cherry, spice and raspberry showcase the vineyard’s cool-climate terroir.

The palate is backed with great structure and savoriness, all leading to a mouth-filling experience through the finish.


100% Pinot Noir

Food pairing: A wonderful, velvety and consistent wine that pairs well some grilled meats & vegetables, salmon dishes, cream based sauces and mild cheeses.

Accolades: 95 Points by Wine Enthusiast

For more information, visit:


Special thanks to Daou Vineyards for this unique opportunity to experience and pair this smooth



Decorative wine bottle collar drip ring by:

(Special discount promo code: CFW15)

(Photo by Carlos Sarmiento...nothing like relaxing by a pool after cooking and enjoying a sensational meal. Special thanks to hosts Ricardo & Milagros Rodezno).

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1 Comment

Dec 14, 2022

Looking forward to taste your food 😁

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