It’s been a while, but let’s dip back into Italian wines, which I’ve always loved for the unpretentious full-flavored value they can deliver. Today’s wine is a great everyday bottle that can be had at amazingly low prices — I picked mine up for $8.99. At the price, we’re not looking for anything groundbreaking — we want something of a good quality that will complement good food.
It’s made from Barbera grapes, which, I read, are the third-most grown grapes in Italy, and which usually yield a fruit-forward wine that is sometimes aged in charred oak to add complexity. These particular grapes hail from Asti, a city in the northwestern part of Italy, close to the French border, an area which has recently become a recognized winemaking region regulated by the powers that be to protect the good name of the product.
How does it look? This wine is a transparent deep violet color, with what looks like a fairly light body, and thin legs that linger, which suggests something light and sweet.
How does it smell? It’s a fairly simple nose, with some mid-range berry notes, and a bit of alcohol (not surprising, considering this wine’s clocking in at 13 percent alcohol by volume.) There aren’t any tannins, really, which is to be expected, since this wine was cellared for a year.
But how does it taste? This Barbera’s got a very mild, unoffensive flavor. If we were feeling less charitable, we would call it boring. The flavor’s just as sweet as we expected, with blueberry and blackberry as the primary notes. This wine wasn’t oaked, by the flavor of it, and it might have been more interesting if it hadn’t aged for a year. But it’s certainly not a bad wine, and it’d look great on your table — just nothing to write home about.
What should you eat with it? The vintners suggest pasta, barbecue, or seasoned cheeses. All that sounds about right, as long as you’re not cooking anything too flavorful. Then again, this wine’s made to be overpowered, so maybe you shouldn’t worry too much about any of that.