It’s happening again: another massive/historical/life-changing/ DON’TLEAVETHEHOUSE blizzard is coming to the east coast. Fine with me, since Nemo’s bascially just a perfect excuse to hole up inside with tons of wine!
Here at the grapefriend bunker, we’re always fully stocked. So what am I gonna pop open? Despite the fact that you could go with something from an icy place, like snow-capped Alto Adige or Canadian ice wine, it’s sort of a must to go with red. Especially if you’re not fireside, leave it to a great red to warm your insides.
Tonight, we’re going Italian 1) because my friend is making lasagna and 2) because I have to sample them for a story I’m writing for Cosmo. Let it first be known that Italian wines are not my faves by any stretch. I pretty much loathe Sangiovese. I do love a good Barolo, but my bank account doesn’t. But occasionally I find myself at an Italian restaurant and forced to pick a wine, and I’ve always found a Barbera really nice. They’re pretty easy drinkers – or to put it another way, someone once described it to me as “the wine you can drink the shit out of.” Not the most delicate description, but totally accurate and a lot more fun.
Barbera’s are full of acidity so they’re great with all those tomato-sauce-based dishes. It’s the third most-planted red grape in Italy (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano) and mostly found in Piedmont. You’ve got your Barbera d’Alba (from the Alba province) and Barbera d’Asti (from Asti). Asti’s are generally more lively and acidic, and at least 85% Barbera. The Alba’s are 100% Barbera and usually fuller and plumper.
I’m doing a taste-off with an Alba, an Asti, and a Barbera from Amador County in California:
Great black cherry on the finish, with a hint of pine and some violets. Dry and tart. This one actually had more acid that the Asti, which was odd since everyone says the Asti’s have more. That’s why you gotta sample for yourself!
The smell of bright, fresh red and black cherry just POPS. But also has a huge presence of earth and leaves, with a hint of pine. Nice flavor but so dry, almost tart. Very little tannin though, so it’s smooth with light-medium body and light-medium acid.
Wayyyy fruitier. The warmer climate in California will give you that ripe, deep fruit (in this case, black cherry). Also has a hint of dark wet fresh soil. It’s got a darker, like the Alba. Medium acid with a long finish of lush cherry.
Stay dry, grapefriends – but only in the weather sense!