Things not often heard during the height of summer: “I’m really in the mood for red wine.” But whether it’s due to an over-saturation of rosé and summer whites, or the fact that I am currently storing all red wines in my refrigerator to keep them from spoiling in the heat, lately I find myself reaching for warm-weather reds more than anything else. Happily, many lighter, juicier, less-tannic red wines take well to a light chill and can even pair with summer vegetable and fish dishes. That’s how I found myself kicking off the weekend by pairing crudo, tomato salad, and grilled prawns with a Sicilian sipper, the Al-Cantàra ‘La Fata Galanti’ Nerello Cappuccio, at New York City’s Santina restaurant.
It makes sense that a Sicilian wine might give off summer vibes — it is an island wine, after all. But Sicilian reds can actually be quite full-bodied due to the region’s warm climate. Wines made from Nerello Mascalese, Etna’s signature grape, can be as tannic and structured as Nebbiolo at times, depending on the winemaker’s style and altitude of the vines. My chosen bottle is made not from Nerello Cappuccio, a grape that is almost exclusively used for blending with Nerello Mascalese. In fact, I’ve only seen Nerello Cappuccio bottled on its own once before. This “less noble” variety is softer, rounder, and juicier, making it approachable and suitable for chilling.
‘La Fata Galanti’ showcases Nerello Cappuccio’s fragrant quality, with lively, fresh red plum, raspberry, and cherry fruit prevalent on the nose along with a touch of red rose and spice. It tastes like it smells, with a bit more zing than expected. Dark rock minerality and texture from Etna’s volcanic soil shine through. Overall, the wine is chuggable and thirst-quenching — exactly what a summer red should be.