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Wild Game Sausages with Pasta + Donati's 2015 The Immigrant #MerlotMe #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Donati Family Vineyard, one of the #MerlotMe event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

October is always a fun wine pairing month as I take part in the month-long #MerlotMe event. And, because, we get many wine samples to taste, I plan many, many dinners to try them all in the weeks leading up to October. 

In My Glass

Donati Family Vineyard* is completely new to me and I was eager to share these wines with my mother and father-in-law during their weekend visit. I am also embarrassed to admit that I have never tried any wines from the Paicines AVA, despite their proximity to me here on the Monterey Peninsula. So happy to have made this acquaintance.

Paicines is about an hour east of me, approximately 17 miles north of the Pinnacles National Monument, and consists of about 4,500 acres of grape-growing area. Flanked by the Gabilan Mountains and the San Benito River, the area is located within a tunnel of cool ocean breezes that flow from the coast towards the San Joaquin Valley.

Donati's 2015 The Immigrant retails at $35 per bottle and is a 100% Merlot from the Paicines AVA. Though it was fermented in stainless steel, it was aged for nearly three years in a mixture of new French oak, American oak, and Russian oak. 

On the nose, we got aromas of red fruit with hints of tobacco. On the palate, I found it more complex with layers of spice and a hint of bitterness - like 100% chocolate. This was definitely a wine to be sipped and savored.

On My Plate

I went to the farmers' market on Friday ahead of my in-laws' arrival because I know that they've always liked the sausages from a local purveyor. I try to bring up a cooler-full for them whenever we visit. I picked up wild boar andouille, elk kobasica, and venison sausage. Then I decided to do a taste-test with the wine to see which wild game sausage worked best. I made one tomato sauce, then simmered coins of each sausage separately and let the family pick their favorites.

Ingredients makes 6 servings
I tripled the sauce and divided to repeat once for each of the sausages

Sauce (can be made ahead of time)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 t fresh oregano, chopped
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 8 ounces sausages
  • 1 yellow or white onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 C sauce
  • 1/2 C diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 pound pasta (I used spaghetti)
For Serving
  • parmigiano reggiano for serving

Melt butter in olive oil over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened but not browned, approximately 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes (and their juices). Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have melted down and the sauce has thickened, approximately 25-30 minutes. Add herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper, as needed.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add a dash of salt and a splash of oil

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the olive oil, sausages, and onion. Over low to medium heat, cook until the onion is softened, approximately 5 to 6 minutes.

Add in the fresh tomatoes and cook until slightly softened. Pour in the tomato sauce and raise the heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to simmer for 5 to 6 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in the boiling water for a minute less than the package instructs. You want the pasta slightly more than al dente. Drain.

Add the pasta to the simmering sauce and toss until fully coated. It should be in the simmering sauce for at least another minute to finish cooking. Scoop the pasta into individual serving bowls and serve immediately, topped with grated cheese.

Allow diners to grate more cheese, if desired. My crew likes a little pasta with their cheese. My gosh!

 Interestingly enough, there was no consensus on which sausage was the favorite.

As we tasted and discussed, Jake and R said that the venison sausage was their favorite. D and I loved the wild boar andouille. And my mother and father-in-law preferred the elk.

But the wine worked well with every sausage! I definitely have this on my list of wines to buy when we get more of these sausages. Thanks, Donati Family.

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*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Camilla! Sounds like a great pairing.

    1. Thank YOU for the great wine! Looking forward to seeing other #MerlotMe pairing with your wines. Cheers.


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