As much as I appreciate light and crisp wines in the summer months, sometimes I just want something full-bodied and flavorful. That’s why I’m particularly partial to Nebbiolo wines from Italy's Piedmont region. These unusual wines are notable for their complex flavors, intricate subtleties, and delicate aromas.
As mentioned, Nebbiolo grapes are grown in the Langhe area, which is part of the broader Italian Piedmont vineyard region. Within Lange, Nebbiolo grapes are grown in Barolo, Barbaresco, and Roero. Barolo and Barbaresco are famous for their Nebbiolo offerings, and these wines tend to be more expensive and sought after than more affordable bottles from Roero.
One of the more notable things about Nebbiolo is the fact that the initial aroma suggests that the wine will be light and delicate, while the resulting taste is intense, full-bodied, and packed with tannins.
Nebbiolo has a delicate aroma with hints of fruit and floral notes. In terms of taste, expect to get strong notes of leather, cherry, raspberries, rose, anise, and clay.
Nebbiolo has a medium-heavy body with a high tannin content and acidy. This results in a wine that is intense and toes the fine line between delicate and complex.
Nebbiolo is fairly versatile when it comes to food pairings, but be sure to pick foods that work well with the high tannin content and acidity. Fatty meats are a good option as they will neutralise a fair amount of the tannins. The wine also pairs well with salty dishes with large amounts of vinegar-based sauces.
Steaks with a fair amount of fat and marbleisation pair well with Nebbiolo. Beef cuts like ribeye or prime rib are particularly well suited to this wine, as are sausages, duck, and pork shank. When it comes to vegetables and sauces, think Italian! Nebbiolo goes well with a number of regional dishes that include tomato-based sauces, garlic, olives, pizza, and butternut squash.
Similarly, try pairing the wine with some parmigiana reggiano or pecorino cheese.
Wines to try
Depending on where it was bottled, Nebbiolos may cost between $10 and $100. Bottles from the Barolo areas are the most expensive.
Giovanni Manzone, Il Crutin, Langhe Nebbiolo ($25.99)
Vibrant and spicy, this is a wonderfully tasty and affordable option.
Gemma, Ruja, Langhe Nebbiolo ($15)
Another extremely affordable bottle. This wine combines a intense fruitiness with some ripe tannins.
Pelassa, Sot, Nebbiolo d'Alba ($19.99)
Wonderfully floral and fruity. This wine also has a tasty acidity.