Red Wine Basics: Dolcetto

Dolcetto is a black grape variety produced primarily in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is an everyday table wine that pairs nicely with many dishes.  Interestingly, Dolcetto in Italian means “little sweet one”, though this grape variety is known to produce very dry wines.

A typical bottle of Dolcetto offers a wine that is very tannic, low in acidity and fruity. High tannin levels make the wine rather bitter. Longer contact between juice and skins makes for high tannin levels, so vintners usually aim for shorter maceration periods to limit tannins as much as possible. The skins are very dark and even with a shorter maceration stage; Dolcetto wines are a lovely dark red color.

The wine exhibits black cherry, licorice and prune flavors. The bitter finish of Dolcetto often tastes of almonds. Dolcetto can be consumed within months of release and it is often an “early to market” wine because of its short ripening season. It is not meant to be aged longer than four years as it loses its fruitiness.

Dolcetto is nice to have at the table on an everyday basis because it pairs so well with many dishes. It typically has soft tannins and a fruitiness that can complement many foods. Try it with pastas and pizza for starters. Dolcetto is usually fairly inexpensive, with bottles under $25 being easy to come by.

This concludes my exploration of Dolcetto. Join me next time for a discussion about Grenache, a widely planted grape variety thought to have originated in Spain.

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Louise Bryant

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