AGLIANICO: ROCK & ROLL IN A BOTTLE
Aglianico (It’s pronounced like it looks, only the ‘g’ is silent. Ah-lee-yahn-i-co)
What you need to know:
This is a red wine made from a thick-skinned grape that ripens late in the season. Why do you care? Tannins – those things that give you that distinct dry mouth feel when you sip a red wine – come from the skins of grapes. Ergo, thick skin = more tannins. Later ripening means there’s more time for sugar to develop in the grape, which generally means higher alcohol (fermentation = conversion of sugar to alcohol, in case you needed a quick primer!).
Aglianico is most famously associated with warmer climates in the Southern Italian regions of Campania and Basilicata, where you will see it labeled as Taurasi DOCG, Aglianico del Vulture DOCG, Aglianico del Taburno DOCG, Sannio DOC, and Irpinia DOC, because those crazy Italians – bless their hearts – love to make things as complicated as possible. However, look out for it in other warm regions of the world like Australia, California, Washington State, and even Texas and Arizona, where’s it’s now increasingly grown thanks to its ability to make really delicious wines that age well.
What it tastes like:
Aglianico is a big, bold, brooding wine with a really pleasant gritty quality. It’s dark in color, full-bodied with high tannin and high acidity. It’s like all of those fancy wines you buy, but with a cool, rockstar edge.
Wine people will tell you it has notes of black fruit, leather and coffee, with savory, meaty aromas and often a hint of graphite.
We’ll tell you it’s a badass wine that may put hair on your chest if you’re into that sort of thing. We’ll also tell you that you’re going to impress all those fussy cab lovers at your next dinner party when you pour it for them.
What it sounds like:
The Last Shadow Puppets – My Mistakes Were Made for You
This is rock and roll wine, but the kind of rock and roll at the end of the concert, backstage with the band, where the lead singer has smoked too many cigarettes and enjoyed far too much whiskey, so their voice is growly but they’re still jamming with an acoustic guitar just for you. It’s strong, dark, and brooding, with a serious undercurrent of sexiness.
Try it if you love:
Italian reds in general
Pair it with:
Char-grilled anything. That crispy sear is going to be pure magic with the tannins and smoky notes of the wine.
A one-night stand with someone in the band.
If you want to geek out:
Italian Wine Central
Five wines to buy right now:
Di Majo Norante 2015 Contado Riserva, Molise, IT, $19.99
Elena Fucci 2018 “Titolo” Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata, IT, $45.99
Giornata 2019 Aglianico, French Camp Vineyard, Paso Robles, CA, $30
Bottaia Winery 2017 Aglianico, Temecula Valley, CA, $50
Nativ Aglianico Campi Taurasini “Eremo San Quirico,” Campania, IT, $29.99
Did you taste one of these wines? Tell us about it!