Let's dive in the glass and talk about this lesser-known sparkler from the Piedmont region of Italy. Imagine a ripe strawberry sprinkled with black pepper plunged into a slightly sweet, floral sparkling wine. I find this wine slightly magic, with its surprising aromatic allure and ephemeral . They do make still wines from the Brachetto grape, but I prefer the sparkling variety. It is a perfect summer aperitivo before a meal as many Italians will testify to, and it also pairs so beautifully with berries, fruit custards desserts and cobblers.
The Pronunciation: bra KET’ toe - dahk’ qui
So, Brachetto is the grape, d' means "of" Acqui, which is in the Southern part of Piemonte in Northwestern Italy. (Near Milan for reference). This wine was classified under the Italian wine classification system as a (DOC) Denominazione di Origine Controllata since 1969, and in 1996 received the highest classification granted: (DOCG) Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. This basically says: This is guaranteed to be really good. It is low in alcohol, which as a rapid drinker, I appreciate, and the wine must be made from 100% Brachetto grapes. It has an alleged storied past, as writers in Ancient Rome were discussing a wine from Acqui drank by Cleopatra. According to legend, the Pharaoh believed that the wine had the power to unleash the passions of lovers. This certainly lends romance to the wine, but I assure you, this quaff doesn't need historical gimmicks.
Although this is considered a summer libation for those of us who hold an affection for this wine, I recommend trying it out around the Holidays as an alternative sparkling option. I mean, it is undeniably a festively beautiful red color after all. Marenco is one of my favorite producers of Brachetto, especially because years ago, I had the pleasure to meet the beautifully slight, older women who made the wine. It was at a Vias tasting in New York, and these bright-eyes matriarchs only spoke Italian. I seem to recall exhibiting an embarrassing amount of theatrical gesticulations to show my adoration for their wines, for their obvious dedication and love for their craft. There are many producers I have tried and almost all have proven to be lovely and interesting. Below is the glass--okay, I had 3 glasses-- that I enjoyed a couple of days ago in my back yard, just because. I mean even Tuesdays can quite unexpectedly prove to be incredibly draining. Plus, occasionally we just need to put our toes in the grass, and some sparkling goodness in our glass! Cheers
“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” -Benjamin Franklin
Below More Information on the Italian Wine Classification System, which are controlled by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
I often use Google Translate to make sure I am getting the pronunciations spot on, its a great tool.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)
This classification denotes the highest quality recognition for Italian wines. It is comprised of a relatively limited number of first-class wines. DOCG wines must meet all of the label requirements that the DOC wine must maintain with added caveats indicating stringent vineyard yield, grape types grown within precise boundaries, specific alcohol levels, and minimum aging requirements. Tuscany and Piedmont carry the most DOCG wines in Italy.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Basically the equivalent of the French wine classification, Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC). Wines that fall under the DOC category must be made in specified, government defined zones, in accordance with particular regulations that are intended to preserve the wine's character that is uniquely derived from Italy's individual regions. There are currently over 300 DOC wines in Italy, all adhering to specific vineyard trellising, irrigation and vinification requirements detailing which grapes may be grown and where along with aging requirements and alcohol limits.
Indicazione di Geografica Tipica (IGT)
These table wines are often ubiquitous wines that are grown in specific geographical growing regions. However, there are exceptions -- some of Italy's best wines (aka the "Super Tuscans") do fall under this category just to avoid more stringent regulations associated with DOC or DOCG and allow for more vineyard experimentation.
Vino Da Tavola (VdT)
This designates wines that reside firmly on the "lower end" of the totem pole. Comprised of Italian table wines, whose only criteria is that they must be produced somewhere in Italy. You can find easy-drinking and great values in this category.