I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to keep enough good Italian red wines on hand for pastas and other Italian-inspired dishes. Italy’s foods and wines seem especially made for one another, particularly when it comes to anything involving tomatoes, which play such a key role in Italian food.
Whether it’s the Nebbiolos, Barberas, and Dolcettos of Piedmont; Valpolicella from Veneto; Sangiovese from Tuscany, or Montepulciano from Abruzzo, Italy’s reds are often high in acidity, which helps them stand up to the acids in tomato-based dishes.
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Another grape that does this is Aglianico, the most important red variety in Campania and Basilicata in southern Italy. The grape is native to the region, and in mountainous Basilicata it is the basis of the most prominent wine, known as Aglianico del Vulture.
Vulture refers to an extinct volcano and, as the name suggests, the grapes are grown on its slopes and around it. One of the top producers is Bisceglia. I found its 2015 Aglianico del Vulture “Terra di Vulcano” at one of my neighborhood wine stores for $14.
As far as value goes, this one is unbeatable, showing a level of complexity that’s unusual at this price, making it a top choice for everyday drinking and beyond.
The wine is notable for its earthiness, including aromas of mushroom and forest floor, and its spicy, dark-berry fruit. There’s an intriguing black licorice note on the finish. This is a pure expression of the fruit, as aging takes place in stainless steel vats with no exposure to oak. It was a perfect match for a tomato-and-meat sauce over pasta.
Now that I know of this Aglianico, I intend to keep a few bottles on hand for those simple, rustic dinners that demand a wine just like this.