Food & Drink

Italy's wines are as diverse as pizza toppings

Fiorini Becco Rosso Lambrusco Grasparossa 2017, La Capranera Aglianico 2017, Tasca Regaleali Nero D’Avola 2016, Castelluccio Le More Sangiovese Superiore 2017, Gini Soave Classico 2017. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Tom McCorkle
Fiorini Becco Rosso Lambrusco Grasparossa 2017, La Capranera Aglianico 2017, Tasca Regaleali Nero D’Avola 2016, Castelluccio Le More Sangiovese Superiore 2017, Gini Soave Classico 2017. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Tom McCorkle

There’s no requirement to drink Italian wine with pizza, but why not? Italy’s wines are as diverse as the toppings we load onto our pies and are incredibly versatile with food, which shouldn’t come as a surprise from a country with such varied cuisine.

Our greatest value of the week is the delightful Castelluccio Le More Sangiovese Superiore 2017 from Romagna. That’s not one of Italy’s famous wine regions, which may help explain why this charmer of a wine is only $11 a bottle. It’s almost cheap enough to be your house pizza (or spaghetti) wine for the summer.

Great Value

• Castelluccio Le More Sangiovese Superiore 2017 — Two and a half stars. The label may bring a grimace as you squint to read it, but the wine brings a smile of delight. Sangiovese, the red grape of Tuscany, shines in this version from Romagna with its characteristic flavors of dried cherries and cocoa and hints of rosemary and sage. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent.

• Fiorini Becco Rosso Lambrusco Grasparossa 201 — Three stars. This is not your grandmother’s Lambrusco, that fizzy, slightly sweet red wine she kept in the refrigerator door for a nip after grandpa went to bed. This dry sparkling red wine, redolent of dried fruit and wild herbs and a traditional Italian partner to salumi, makes it ideal for barbecue and pizza, especially pies featuring pepperoni and sausage. Affirmation that life is, indeed, good. ABV: 11.5 percent.

• Tasca Regaleali Nero D’Avola 2016 — Three stars. Nero d’avola is Sicily’s answer to syrah, packing the warmth and depth of the better-known grape but not so much the heft. The Regaleali grabs your attention with savory flavors of blackberries and blueberries, and a dry herbal finish. Delicious. ABV: 13 percent.

• La Capranera Aglianico 2017 — Three stars. Aglianico from the southern part of Italy’s boot is often overripe and pruny, with rubbery, stewed fruit flavors and high alcohol. This wine is a beauty, with balance and finesse, showing ripeness but also elegance. Try this with anything off the grill this summer. ABV: 14 percent.

• Gini Soave Classico 2017 — Two and a half stars. Mango, peach, jasmine and sneaky acidity that doesn’t attack your palate but holds the wine together - that’s what 60-year-old, organically farmed garganega vines can offer. Try this with any sort of seafood topping on a pizza, or a margherita with tomatoes and mozzarella. Not having pizza? Think salads, asparagus or anything we normally think of as a “wine killer.” This beauty can handle it. ABV: 12.5 percent.

• Ratings: 3 stars: Exceptional; 2 stars: Excellent; 1 star: Very Good; Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

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