Yes, red roses are romantic...and also so terribly cliché. This Valentine's Day, why not gift your guy or gal or pal a bouquet of roses in wine form. And, since we all know that Italian is the language of love, then Italian wine must be the wine of love, right? [Resounding] Right! Below are several Italian grape varieties known for producing wines with rosy bouquets that will win over the palette of your beloved...not to mention pump those healthy antioxidants into their hearts.
NEBBIOLO | (nebby-OH-low) This grape variety is native to Piemonte, one of Italy's most northwesterly regions. It grows especially well on the hillsides of the foggy (nebbioso) Langhe province, which is home to both Barolo and Barbaresco--the famous wine-making hamlets which produce their namesake wines made from 100% nebbiolo. Expect a medium (in the case of younger Nebbiolos) to full-bodied wine (Barolo and Barbaresco), with strong tannins and acidity, flavors of red berries like cherries and raspberries, accompanied by an aroma of rose, and in older vintages, tobacco and truffles.
SANGIOVESE | (san-joe-VAY-zay) Sangiovese means the blood (sang) of Jupiter (Giove), and being that this grape gets around Italy just as much as the swinging deity did in his day, it's not a bad fit. What that means for the wine it produces is that there are a myriad of different flavor profiles thanks to the many different clones and terroirs. Still, tart cherry, strawberry, and dried roses are common expressions among its offspring, and, as they age, leather, tobacco and herbal flavors come into play. Tuscany is where you will find this grape under the nom de plume of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, but you can also find it as Montefalco Rosso from Umbria and as plain old Sangiovese in many regions of Italy.
BRACHETTO | (bra-KET-oh) This aromatic grape is used to produce both a still and sparkling light-red, usually sweet wine. Grown predominantly in Piemonte, in the region of Asti (also known for its white sister sparkling wine, Moscato d'Asti), Brachetto d'Acqui offers fragrant notes of raspberries, strawberries, and fresh rose petals. According to legend, both Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony presented Cleopatra with vinum acquense (a predecessor of brachetto)...let's just hope your love story doesn't wind (wine?) up like theirs.
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