When you think of Italian wines, what comes to mind? I think of Chianti, Barolo, Pinot Grigio, Brunello, Prosecco and Super Tuscans.
How about Pecorino or Gaglioppo? You may not have heard of these Italian grapes but you should be drinking them.
Wine has been made in Italy for more than 4,000 years. Today Italy produces and consumes more wine than any other country; the variety of grape types and wine styles is staggering. Some grape varieties are marketed better than others in the United States but now it’s time for these lesser-known grapes to get the publicity they deserve.
The name Pecorino may sound familiar because it is the name of an Italian cheese. The Pecorino grape has no relation to the cheese.
Pecorino grapes are grown in Abruzzo, a region in east-central Italy on the Adriatic Sea. Pecorino produces medium to full bodied white wines with moderate acidity and gentle minerality. The wines have flavors of ripe green apple and pear. Some have notes of almond and hazelnut or ground spices like white pepper and ginger. This wine pairs nicely with shellfish, light pasta and poultry dishes and soft cheeses. I recommend Colle dei Venti 2007 Terre di Chieti, which costs around $12.
Gaglioppo is a red wine grape grown in Calabria. This region is the “toe” in Italy’s boot. Gaglioppo produces a wine that is light cherry red in color with an elegant taste. Ripe flavors of cherry, strawberry and raspberry are rounded out with licorice and a hint of spice. Gentle tannins give the wine a nice structure. Drink this with veal and grilled chicken, meat lasagna and tomato-based pasta dishes. I recommend the 2007 Ceraudo Grayasusi, which costs around $22 or Ippolito 1845 “Liber Pater” 2006, which costs around $12.