Tag Archives: sangiovese

What I’m Drinking: Italian Wine Style!

I recently had the opportunity to attend an Italian wine pairing dinner through a wine group that I attend. The dinner featured the wines of Zerba Cellars, which is right across the border into Oregon (although it’s seriously a hop, skip, and a jump from many of the southern Walla Walla wineries. Maybe just a hop, even). We started with a dry Sangiovese rosé, paired with bruschetta, then moved on to a beautiful, light Dolcetto (traditionally a variety grown in the Piedmont region of Italy) with the bruschetta. Dinner was lasagna (one meaty kind and one vegetarian kind), garlic bread (of course), salad, and Barbera, which was nice and bright and paired really well with food, followed by a Sangiovese, whose earthiness really complemented the veggie lasagna.

I’ve tasted Zerba’s wines before, and liked most of them without being really wowed by them, but I really enjoyed all of them with food. In particular, the Dolcetto and Barbera were really stand-out wines when we had them with appetizers and the meal, enough that I’ll swing by Zerba and pick up some bottles before they sell out. The Dolcetto, specifically, because I think the case production was pretty limited; there isn’t a whole lot of Dolcetto planted around Walla Walla, to my knowledge!


I don’t really know much about Italian wines, except that I really enjoyed some Valpolicella and Chianti Classico when I was in Tuscany a few years back, just discovering red wines. I think I’ll have to do some research (and “research” by means of drinking wine) on Italian varieties pretty soon!


Does anyone have any recommendations for Italian wines for me to try? 


What I’m Drinking, 4th of July Edition: CAVU Rosé


Full disclosure: I haven’t actually been to CAVU and I hadn’t tasted any of their wines before drinking this DEE-LICIOUS rosé. CAVU is one of the Incubator wineries, which is an area of small winery spaces located near the Walla Walla airport. Start-up wineries can lease these spaces short-term while they get started, and then they typically move to a better/bigger/different location. CAVU is just about to move to a different space in the airport area, which means that they must be doing pretty well. And this rosé was pretty awesome, so I’m not going to disagree.

This is a Barbera rosé, which I haven’t seen too much of; I’ve seen a lot of Sangiovese rosés, and even some Sangiovese/Barbera ones, but not many 100% Barbera. It gives it a nice acidity, with some good oomph to it. Lots of strawberry/raspberry flavor, dry and refreshing. In this kind of heat, I’m not looking for a big or heavy wine. This rosé has enough body to feel like you’re drinking wine, but it’s not going to weigh you down in the hot weather!

To be honest, part of the reason why I wanted to drink this particular wine for 4th of July was because of the blue and white label, which looks like an American flag with the rosé in the bottle and made me feel celebratory! We paired it with our 4th of July dinner: pasta salad and a tomato-basil salad in a balsamic and wine vinaigrette.

After dinner, we switched to gin and tonics, which is my other preferred hot-weather drink.

Check out CAVU online!



What is a tannin?

What is a tannin and why are people obsessed with the tannins in wine? Before I knew anything about wine, tannins confused me more than everything else about wine combined. Is it a flavor? Do they add it to the wine? Is it good or bad?

Tannin is a compound naturally found in plants (like, you know, red grapes). Tannins are bitter, often described as astringent or dry. If a wine leaves you puckering, it’s a sure bet that it’s tannic. You know that puckery feeling you get when you drink oversteeped tea? That’s tannin.

You get tannin in wine from the grape skins. Some grapes are naturally more tannic than others; Cabernet Sauvignon has a very thick skin, which means it grows well in most climates, but also that it has a lot of tannin. Pinot Noir, on the other hand, has very thin skin, which means it’s delicate to grow and has very little tannin. Aging wine in oak barrels also imparts tannins; the longer you have wine in oak, the more tannic the wine.

It can be both good and bad. Overly tannic wine is not a pleasant taste or sensation, but it mellows out over time. Puckery tannins become soft and smooth as the wine ages in bottle, leaving it with fully body, structure, and a long finish. Wines with little tannin can be weak and flavorless. In short, you want a wine with enough tannin to give the wine structure or allow it to age, but not so much that it makes you look like you just bit into a lemon.

A handy infographic for you! This is a very rough guide of wines with the most to least tannins; it will vary because of climate, regions, aging, etc, but this is a little shortcut for those of you new to wine.

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Photo by David Wilbanks via fotopedia.