Living with a white wine drinker, I have a whole collection of red wines I never drink. They’re usually too heavy, dense, or “meaty” as he likes to say. But on a recent date night to New York’s Maialino, I thought I’d make a push for something we might both enjoy, given the chill in the air. I gave sommelier Erik Lombardo my challenge: help us find a light-bodied, acid-driven red that even a white wine drinker could love. He came back with a grape I’d never heard of—Rossesse from Liguria, the thin-strip of land in northwestern Italy that hugs the Ligurian sea and best known for playing host to Genoa, the capital city for pesto-lovers everywhere. Lombardo described the wine as having a briny acidity, and I was immediately intrigued.
When he brought out the Lupi Rossese di Dolceacqua 2010, I was immediately taken with its translucent ruby color, so light in color, yet still so distinctly a red wine. One sip and I understood immediately what he meant by briny, and yet the salty, savory flavor was well integrated, just a splash of the sea that didn’t overwhelm. Its bright acidity heightened its lightness in my mouth, paving the way for a delicate touch of black pepper. The fruit was merely backbone, tart cranberry playing lightly in the background. The flavors and textures of the wine were interesting, yet not overly so, for at its core, the Rossese is meant to be a easy drinking wine, pleasant on the palate and great with food. Indeed, it went equally well our entire meal, from fatty cured meats to cheesy pasta to grilled fish, and my white wine lover finished not only his last glass but mine.
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