Wine FAQ: Should I decant my wine?

Pouring_wine_into_a_decanterFAQ:  Do I need to decant wines before drinking them or not?

A: A common (and often disputed) question, indeed!  The short answer is:  It depends.

Let’s start with the basics about what a decanter is and its history.

What is a decanter?  A modern decanter is usually a 1 liter or larger glass serving vessel, sometimes with a stopper, in which wine is poured directly from the bottle.


The decanter’s origins:  The first wine-holding serving vessels are attributed to the tables of ancient Rome*.  These were often more square than round, and were sometimes made of glass or silver.  Their purposes were entirely functional (=appropriately sized for servants to serve wine) and decorative (=looking pretty).  They have evolved a lot in terms of shapes and materials throughout the centuries due to changes in fashions, technology, material availability, and uses.  More on that below.


*Ancient Romans are possibly considered the first decanter-makers due to modern decanters being largely defined as inert glass wine vessels – much like those found in ancient Rome.  However wine-serving vessels made from non-glass materials are likely to have begun in other parts of the world much earlier because winemaking and drinking were a large part of ancient civilizations that predated ancient Rome – Greek and Georgian, to name a few.

MeiDecanter materials historically versus today:  While ancient Romans didn’t invent glass-making, they may have been the first to combine large-scale glass production (including glass-blowing) with decorative glass vessels specifically for serving libations.  Other materials such as silver were also used, especially in the period between the Western Roman Empire’s collapse and the rise of Venetian glass-making during the Renaissance.  Other materials historically used around Europe for decanters included earthenware jugs, imported Chinese porcelain, carved crystal, silver, bronze, and even gold.

In the 17th century England developed better glass making technology with the use of lead oxide and flint, and became the production center for bottles, jugs, and decanters for nearly a century.  Glass further lent itself to trends and innovations in glass-cutting and etching techniques throughout the centuries that followed.  Preferences towards glass decanters were also related to its transparency – unlike silver or earthenware – which helped to further improve the aesthetic of the container by showing the wine’s color.


Decanter shapes & styles:  Much like the materials, the shapes and styles of decanters have changed quite a lot over history.  Nowadays they tend to have a narrow neck and wider area where the wine rests.  Removable stoppers (to limit air exposure) were a late 17th century addendum and became a regular fixture by the 1730s.




What is a decanter for?  Originally decanters were expressly for decorative and manageable wine-serving.  Modern decanters, while still decorative, are also used for any number of the following reasons:

  1. Vintage_port_bottle_with_sediment

    Natural sediments seen in an empty bottle of vintage port

    Removing wine from any sediment that has formed in its bottle.  Prior to modern stabilization techniques (clarification, filtration, chilling, etc), wines of the past were more likely to throw a deposit while in their closed bottle.  While this sediment is/was harmless, it can have bitter or astringent flavors.  Even today some wines, such as vintage Port or older reds, develop a natural layer of sediment as they age.  By slowly pouring a wine into a decanter it’s easier to separate the liquid (wine) from the solids (natural sediment).

  2. Aerating a wine before drinking.  This is the controversial and a more modern usage of decanting.  Proponents of decanting believe that the aeration it provides helps soften a wine while promoting its bouquet.

The dispute:  Is extreme aeration beneficial or detrimental to a wine?  And more importantly, is it (ever) necessary?  There’s no simple answer here because the help or harm offered by a decanter almost entirely depends on the wine in question and its condition (e.g. age, faults, style, etc).

While most everyone can agree that some amounts of aeration (i.e. the oft-seen swirling of your glass) aid a wine in opening up, there is serious disagreement that decanting – a rather rough method of air-exposure – is ever appropriate.  When professionals such as Chateau Latour design decanters specifically to maximize aeration yet at the same time celebrated oenologists like Professor Émile Peyaud argue it is scientifically and “oenologically indefensible” to aerate a wine in this manner, who does the wine enthusiast side with?

No need to side with anyone! There are appropriate uses for a decanter and conversely less appropriate uses.  You might be surprised how rarely you actually need a decanter, thought hey are handy to have around sometimes.

Here are some common wine scenarios and my professional advice on if you should decant or not:



Natural sediment in wine glass



  • If a wine has a lot of sediment in the bottle.  It’s a toss-up between decanting or not because although decanting is one excellent means of removing wine from sediment, you might be just as successful with careful and slow pouring.  Wines that typically will have sediment are vintage ports, very old wines, or unfiltered wines. On the other hand, wines that are very old don’t entirely benefit from decanting due to their fragility.

Pro-tip:  Pouring a bottle over a lit candle is an easy and stylish way to see the sediment in a wine bottle before it ends up in your glass or the decanter!

DON’T DECANT – No_decanter

  • If a wine is very old (i.e. 15+ years).  Old wines are very delicate and lose their aromas and flavors much faster once exposed to oxygen.  If you have an old wine that you’d like to decant to remove it from its sediment, aim to serve and drink it immediately afterwards.
  • A young, inexpensive, table wine.  The best, most gentle means of aerating any wine is simply pouring into wine glasses and swirling it.  That said, table/inexpensive wines rarely need any help opening up.
  • White wines, sparkling wines, dessert wines, or rose’.  Extreme oxygen exposure in these cases is almost always inappropriate and will result in the loss of flavor, aromas, and bubbles.  


  • Wine_Glass_and_DecanterIf you’ve opened a very youthful wine that is very “closed”, e.g. a very young Barolo.  A “closed” wine might be unpleasantly astringent or lack aromas/flavours.  In cases with more premium wines that needed more time to mature, the extreme aeration a decanter provides can expedite the loss of unpleasant astringency and help open it up.  It’s of course more preferable to not open a wine up before it’s ready!
  • If you’ve just got a beautiful decanter that you need an excuse to use!

Other helpful tips regarding wine, aeration, and serving:

  • Simply uncorking a bottle and letting it stand open for a bit is not a very effective aeration method.  The reasons for this is simply a mathematical equation of the size of the wine’s surface area exposed to oxygen and time exposed.  A full bottle of wine left in the bottle with only the cork removed has such a small amount of wine surface exposed to air that the effects of letting it “breathe” are so slow they are described as “negligible” (Oxford Companion to Wine, p.103).  This is why decanters (and red wine glasses) are shaped so widely: to allow a larger surface to air ratio and thereby speed up aeration.
  • Some quick and easy methods of gently aerating a wine are simply pouring into glasses and swirling or allowing to sit for up to 20 minutes in the glass.  Transferring wine from glass to glass is a less gentle but effective way to introduce some air into a wine that has just been opened and poured as well.  This is also a good way to deal with some minor wine faults such as reductive aromas (e.g. rotten eggs, stopped up drains) and minor cork taint.
  • Glassware is important.  While you don’t need expensive crystal glasses to enjoy wine, the shape and size of your glass greatly affects how the wine tastes (and lasts).  Click the link to read more.
  • Wine gadgets, like special pourers that advertise their abilities in softening your wines, are definitely fun to have around but rarely needed – especially if you tend to use large glassware or decanters.  Never use these with older wines or whites, sparkling, or rose’.
  • Throwing wine in a blender is not advisable.


Possibly an artistic rendering of myself in a former life as a wine-tasting monk of the 13th century?


Aubrie Talarico




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The Italian Connection: Beaujolais Crus & Ancient Rome

lawrence OP Santa CostanzaThe end of November is here and with it our tables are being adorned with French Beaujolais.  This ritualistic gulping down of Beaujolais is for good reason – not only is the freshly harvested and vinified Nouveau released on the 3rd Thursday of November but these and the other Beaujolais crew/Crus are floral and berry-driven wines which partner extremely well with fall foods from roasted turkey or duck to vegetable plates with butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

This southern Burgundy wine region has an (ancient) Italian connection that many folks don’t know about:  Beaujolais was once part of an important ancient Roman trade route where Romans also planted vines – especially on the hills that are now the modern Cru of Morgon and Brouilly.  In fact six of the ten Beaujolais Cru sites (=the best subregions of this area) are actually named for ancient Romans:

  • Juliénasnamed after Julius Caesar.
  • Saint Amour– named after a Roman soldier (who according to legend converted to Christianity to escape execution).
  • Fleurienamed after the Roman general Floricum.
  • Regnienamed after a Gallo-Roman nobleman named Reginus.
  • Côte de Brouilly/Brouillynamed after Roman lieutenant Brulius.

*The remaining Crus (Chenas, Morgon, Chiroubles & Moulin-à-Vent) are however NOT named for any ancient Roman.

Following the Romans, the Benedictine monks – originally from Cassino, halfway between Rome and Naples – planted and harvested grapevines in the region from the 7th century well into the medieval period.  Monasteries were actually of fundamental wine importance in medieval Europe.  Though viticulture certainly would have survived without them (despite some exaggerations that suggest wine would have been all but gone) they definitely had the economics, stability, land, and man-power that enabled (large-scale) wine production for many centuries through the so-called Dark Ages.

20151117_112305Quite a lot has changed since ancient Roman and Benedictine vineyards were planted in the area however.  While there’s a fun historical connection between Beaujolais and (ancient/medieval) Italy, it’s important to note that the wines of the area’s past are wildly different than those the French region makes today.  Grapes, taste, and vinification techniques have unsurprisingly changed over time.  Wines of southern Burgundy’s past may have been combinations of Pinot Noir, Aligoté, Chardonnay, and Gamay – with ancient wines being diluted with water and even flavoured with herbs, honey, and raisins.  In Beaujolais today the dominant grape is undeniably Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc (a specific Gamay clone).  The shifting of grapes around Burgundy – with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay taking precedence in the northern areas and Gamay moving to the southern Beaujolais area – has in part been due to certain historical figures’ preferences.  For example in the 14th century the Duke of Burgundy, Philippe the Bold, formally banned Gamay from being planted in the Burgundy area thereby pushing its plantings south to the Beaujolais region.  As luck would have it however, Gamay actually grows much better in the granitic soils that characterize the Beaujolais hillsides!

Who might like Beaujolais wines?
Fans of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Valdeguié, Cinsault, and other fruity (but not sugary sweet) reds.  The Nouveau edition of Beaujolais are typically so light and fruity they can even stand to be chilled.  Other Beaujolais AC and Villages appellations are a bit less banana and bubble-gummy and more complex.  Wines from any of the Crus are lush, full-bodied, and mineral-driven reds with red fruits and fresh floral flavours and aromas.

Fans of Beaujolais Nouveau should check out Italy’s many Novello options or look for northern Italian wines like Schiava or Lagrein.

Aubrie Talarico

Posted in Grapes: Black, Historical Stuff, Holidays, Red Wines | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tasty Note: Cascina Roccalini Barbaresco 2010

cascina_barbarescoThe Wine: Cascina Roccalini – Barbaresco
Vintage (=year): 2010
Producer: Roccalini
Classified: DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)
I Paid: ~$46
Grape: 100% Nebbiolo
Region/Location: Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy
A.B.V (Alcohol by Volume): 14.5%
Aged: 20 months in large format (21 hectoliter) oak casks – more traditional approach than producers using small barrique
Drink: Now-2030

My Tasting Notes:   Dried roses, violets, and crushed cherries on the nose entangled in leather and toast notes.  Bright, lively, and definitely tannic (from the grapes though, not from the wood) – this high acid, high alcohol wine is balanced but could use a food partner and some time to relax.

The Verdict:  This is a textbook example of an elegant but powerful Nebbiolo/Barbaresco wine of Piedmont.  It’s worth noting that their traditional use of large format wood casks renders a full-bodied red that is not overtly “oaky” – the fruit is the starring character here.  It’s a bit softer and with more finesse than a traditional-style Barolo from 2010 would be drinking right now – this is delicious, approachable, and ridiculously affordable for the caliber wine it is.

Great for:  Fans of Barolo, Barbera, Dolcetto, Brunello, and Burgundian Pinot Noir.

Food Pairing Ideas:  Dishes with truffles and mushrooms (risottos, pastas), dishes with wild game, duck, pheasant, steak tartar or other crudo meats like cured hams, braised beef, and stuffed pastas like ravioli with walnuts and ricotta/gorgonzola.

Read more about this producer at Indie Wineries: Roccalini

Aubrie Talarico

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Italian Wine Regions: Abruzzo

477px-Abruzzo_in_ItalyAbruzzo [say it: ah-BRUT-zo], on the east coast of central Italy, is a region full of color:  the deep blue of the Adriatic sea, the grey of the mountains and castles from centuries past, greens of the national parks, and the fuschia, white, and golds of the oleanders and ginestre trees scattered across the landscape.  Its winemaking history stretches at least as far back as the Etruscans in the 6th century BC, though the amount of production has varied over time as populations grew and declined – not uncommon for the Italian peninsula.

abruzzo_posterThe majority of the grapes grown and wines produced were quite different in antiquity compared to today with one major exception: Montepulciano.  Today Montepulciano (unrelated to the Tuscan city and wine Rosso di Montepulciano or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, both made from Sangiovese) along with Trebbiano  make up nearly 90% of the region’s wines.  But the dominance of these two grapes only happened relatively recently.  Written records from the 18th century describe grape varieties as being complex and varied, including the likes of Lacrima, Zibibbo (=Muscat of Alexandria), and Moscatello (=muscat or moscato).  The European phylloxera (=vine-destroying louse) epidemic of the late 19th century is likely to blame for the reduction of grape varieties used in the region today.

Abruzzo makes about 40 million cases of wine per year, thanks to ideal terroir, viticultural practices, and the high annual yields they are permitted to produce.  Most (~80%) of wines are produced by co-op wineries – a strategy that helped and continues to help make winemaking a financially viable option despite post world war economic struggles.  The principal wines are Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (troubling enough NOT always made from Trebbiano), and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (a full-bodied dry rose’).  Small plantings and wine production of the nearly forgotten varieties like Moscatello, Pecorino, and Passerina are also starting to pop up – though they are still in the minority of Abruzzese wines.

"Gran sasso italia". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

“Gran sasso italia”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – wikimedia

Geography: Abruzzo’s landscape features an ample amount of coast (~133km/~83miles) with its bays, coves and cliffs.  The region finds itself snugly between the Adriatic sea and the jagged Apennines mountains – among them is the famous Gran Sasso, the highest peak of the mountain range at 2,912 meters/9,553 feet above sea level. Besides the Gran Sasso there are other noteworthy mountains like La Maiella (~2,795 meters/9,169 feet above sea level) and Gorzano (~2,455 meters/8,054 feet above sea level). There are four major rivers that cut across the region: the Vomano, the Pescara, the Atemo, and the Sangro. There are also many rich national parks, including the large Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo which covers about 50,000 hectares (~123,000 acres) of land.  The best areas of red wine production are said to be the territory called Colline Teramane – near the northern city of Teramo.

abruzzoTerroir: Abruzzo provides its vines with an abundance of sunshine during the growing season and plenty of rain annually to support plant life – especially important since most DOC/DOCG appellations are expressly forbidden from irrigating grapevines.  Soils vary between ferrous clay, calcareous clay, and limestone – with the best sites being less fertile, a typical and desirable characteristic in vineyard sites around the world.  Inland has a more continental climate (with hot summers and very cold winters) while closer to the coast a maritime climate means less severe seasonal temperature ranges, warming breezes from the Adriatic (providing both heat as well as ventilation to protect grapes against fungal diseases).  High altitude plantings take advantage of the cooling effects of both mountain winds and the altitude itself, helping to create an ideal mesoclimate that’s not too hot, cool, or wet for the vines.  Vines are often trained in the pergola fashion

638px-Map_of_region_of_Abruzzo,_Italy,_with_provinces-it.svgMain Provinces and their Wines/Regions:
*Note that some DOC/Gs are permitted to be made in multiple provinces

  • Teramo: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Controguerra, Colonnella
  • L’Aquila: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
  • Chieti: Villamagna, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Terre Tollesi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Ortona, Lanciano, Ripa Teatina
  • Pescara: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Collecorvino, Rosciano, Bolognano

Permitted & Key Regional Grape Friends:

  • Trebbiano Toscano (white)
  • Trebbiano Abruzzese -aka Bombino Bianco (wh)
  • Regina (wh)
  • Chardonnay (wh) – of French origins but found in Italy as well, often the base for sparkling wines
  • Cococciola (wh)
  • Manzoni Bianco (wh)
  • Malvasia Bianca di Candia (wh) – commonly found in Lazio white wines
  • Regina dei Vigneti (wh) – literally means “Queen of vineyards”
  • Grechetto (wh)
  • Malvasia Bianca Lunga (wh)
  • Barbera Bianca (wh)
  • Biancame (wh)
  • Falangina (wh)
  • Garganega (wh) – famously part of the Soave wines of Veneto
  • Greco (wh)
  • Malvasia del Lazio (wh)
  • Montonico Bianco (wh)
  • Moscato Bianco (wh)
  • Mostosa (wh)
  • Passerina (wh) – commonly found in nearby Marche as well
  • Pecorino (wh) – grape that makes up popular Pecorino wines
  • Pinot Bianco (wh) – aka Pinot Blanc, more typically found in northern regions like Alto Adige or Lombardia
  • Riesling/Riesling Renano (wh) – noble German grape
  • Riesling Italico (wh) – aka Welschriesling, confusingly not related to the Riesling mentioned above
  • Sauvignon (wh) – aka Sauvignon Blanc
  • Sylvaner Verde (wh)
  • Tocai Friulano (wh) – usually simply “Friulano” without the troubling “Tocai”
  • Veltliner (wh)
  • Verdicchio Bianco (wh)
  • Vermentino (wh) – more known for being featured in Sardinian wines
  • Pinot Grigio (grey) – aka Pinot Gris, more commonly found in the northern regions
  • Traminer Aromatico (g) – aka Gewurztraminer, more commonly seen in the northern regions in dry or off-dry wines
  • Montepulciano (black) – famous indigenous grape of this region
  • Sangiovese (b) – more associated with Tuscan reds but is often found in blends of Umbria and Abruzzo
  • Merlot (b) – French variety that is among the most planted black grape varieties in all of Italy!
  • Aglianico (b) – hearty black grape more associated with red wines in Campania and Basilicata
  • Barbera (b) – black variety that makes up many wines in Piedmont
  • Cabernet Franc (b) – French variety
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (b) – noble French variety
  • Canaiolo Nero (b)
  • Ciliegiolo (b) – common blending partner in Chianti wines
  • Dolcetto (b) – Piedmont variety
  • Gaglioppo (b)
  • Maiolica (b)
  • Malbech (b) – aka Malbec
  • Marzemino (b) – more often associated with northern region red wines
  • Nebbiolo (b) – noble variety of Piedmont
  • Pinot Nero (b) – aka Pinot Noir, noble French grape often used in northern reds and sparkling wines
  • Primitivo (b) – of Puglian fame
  • Refosco (b)
  • Syrah (b) – Rhone variety that finds itself in Italy usually in Tuscan or Sicilian blends

The Better Known Wines:
Wines from this area are often regionally and/or varietally labelled, for example Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (grape + region) or Ortona (region).

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC/G– $-$$, undeniably the region’s major star, this wine is typically Montepulciano-dominate but may have other varieties blended in like Sangiovese.  They are usually described as “rustic”, darkly colored, tannic, and full of dark fruit (plum, cherry) and spicy flavours. Entry level wines are cheaper and easier partners for pasta, pizza, and salumi while bigger (and more expensive) aged/reserva versions can compliment steaks, roasts, and hamburgers.

2014-04-04 19.29.42Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC – $-$$, robust and dry rose wines made from the Montepulciano grape (either entirely or minimum 85%).  They are usually meaty and full-bodied with fruity and spicy notes, so they can handle savoury meat sauces quite easily while still having enough pretty red fruit character to partner with appetizers like cheese plates, pastas without tomato sauces (e.g. pecorino romano cheese, butter+sage, or alfredo) and fish plates.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC – $-$$, a confusingly named white for sure, because as it turns out the wine may not contain Trebbiano at all!  Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (or Trebbiano Abruzzese) is actually a grape called Bombino Bianco.  Wines labeled “Trebbiano d’Abruzzo” therefore might be entirely Bombino Bianco, or a blend that contains a small portion of Trebbiano Toscano.  Trebbiano d’Abruzzo wines tend to be easy-drinking whites with high acidity and citrus and almond notes.  They can be sometimes pretty underwhleming so look for versions labeled as Superiore for a more substantial wine experience.

Abruzzo DOC – $-$$, this regional appellation was created in 2010 to incorporate Passerina and Pecorino in particular.  Other than whites made from Pecorino or Passerina, Abruzzo DOCs might be whites made from other permitted varieties (see list above), reds, sparkling, and dessert wines.

DOCG Wines of Abruzzo to Date:2014-02-05 20.18.06

  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane – red

DOC Wines of Abruzzo to Date:

  • Abruzzo – red, white, sparkling, passito
  • Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo – rose
  • Controguerra – novello, red, white, sparkling, passito
  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – red
  • Ortona – white, red
  • Terre Tollesi/Tullum – white, red, novello, sparkling, passito
  • Trebbiano d’Abruzzo – white
  • Villamagna – red

IGT Wines of Abruzzo to Date:

  • Colli Aprutini – novello, red, white, sparkling, passito
  • Colli del Sangro – novello, red, white, sparkling, passito
  • Colline Frentane – novello, red, white, sparkling, passito
  • Colline Pescaresi – novello, red, white, sparkling, passito
  • Colline Teatine – novello, red, white, sparkling, passito
  • Del Vastese/Histonium – novello, red, white, sparkling, passito
  • Terre Aquilane – novello, red, white, sparkling, passito
  • Terre di Chieti – novello, red, white, sparkling, passito

Aubrie Talarico

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Tasty Note: Santa Caterina – Chianti DOCG 2011


The Wine: Santa Caterina – Chianti
Vintage (=year): 2011
Producer: Castelvecchio
Classified: DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)
I Paid: ~$11
Grape: 90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo
Region/Location: Chianti – San Casciano Val di Pesa – Firenze (Tuscany)
A.B.V (Alcohol by Volume): 13.5%
Aged: half in concrete vats, half in barrique

My Tasting Notes:  Deep ruby red with aromas of sour cherry, blueberry, tea leaves, and hint of orange peel.  Soft, full, refreshing and flavourful on the palate with pretty red fruits.

The Verdict:   The flavours typical of Sangiovese without harsh tannins or high pricetags…what more can you want out of this cheap Tuscan date?!  A good Italian red tends to have a finesse that will leave you guessing…(a classy wine never gives up her secrets on the first sip!)

Great for: Pinot Noir haters, Chianti-lovers, pizza and pasta-eaters, fans of elegant fruit-driven (but not fruit-bomby) reds, those in search of an alternative to their favourite red blends.

Food Pairing Ideas:
Pasta (especially with tomato and meat sauce), salami and cheese, eggplant parmigiana, meat dishes, hamburgers, pizza

Aubrie Talarico

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Italian Wine & Halloween Candy Pairing!

PovegliaHalloween and candy isn’t just for kids.  Why not spice up your candy with some Italian vino?  Below are some pairings that are sure to satisfy (and hopefully not spook) your candy and wine cravings!


skittles moscato

Skittles: Moscato d’Asti (e.g. Vietti, Piemonte).  Semi-bubbly and medium-sweet, the grapey, floral, and richness of this Piedmont wine will bring out the best in your fun-sized bag of Skittles.



butterfingerButterfinger: an Umbrian barrel-aged white (e.g.“Orzalume” Grechetto Sauvignon Umbria IGT – Castello di Corbara).  This fragrant, oaky and buttery blend from Umbria has the right stuff (=acidity, body, creamy characteristics) to go along with a classic Butterfinger.


Snickers:  Sweet Marsala (e.g. NV Vergine 20 Anni Riserva Grillo – Cantine Rallo, Sicily).  A fortified wine, this Marsala is rich with caramel, marmalade, dried fruit, and maple syrup flavours.  Snickers has met its (Sicilian) match!


sweet tartsSweet Tarts/ Nerds: Prosecco (e.g. Ceradello, Veneto). This organic Prosecco from the Veneto provides a light, fruity, slightly sweet and refreshing partner to the likes of Nerds and Sweet Tarts.



raisinsRaisins: Passito, (e.g. Antonelli Passito Sagrantino di Montefalco, Umbria).  Sweet, complex, full of prunes, dried dark fruit, and sugar-glazed raisins – this very serious dessert wine would be a great way to make the best out of the dreaded box of raisin “treat” in your candy bag.


kitkat_mmsKit Kat/ M&M’s: Rosso di Montepulciano (e.g. Gracciano della Seta, Tuscany).  Sangiovese-based Rosso di Montepulciano boasts rustic berry, orange peel, high acidity and firm tannin.  Should be bold enough to dance with those chocolate notes and refreshing enough to cleanse away those candy-shell and wafer remnants. 


jollyranchersJolly Ranchers:  Lambrusco – Grasparossa (e.g. Le Tenute Bocciolo – Medici Ermete, Emilia-Romagna).  Wash down a Jolly Rancher with this Lambrusco- fizzy, slightly sweet, and featuring berry and cherry soda flavours.



twixTwix: Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (e.g. Stefano Accordini “Acinatico”, Veneto).  Rich, on the sweet side, and filled with notes of dark chocolate, prunes, and baking spices – Twix will do quite well with this bold wine from the Veneto.


almondjoyAlmond Joy: Gewurztraminer (e.g. Elena Walch Gewurztraminer, Alto Adige). Bring out the tropical aspects of this candy with this rich, full-bodied white driven by exotic spices and fruit flavours. 


Aubrie Talarico

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Autumn Aperitivo – Cocchi Americano Rosa

Cocchi_rosa2Need something to take the edge off the work day and stimulate your appetite for the fall?  Look no further than one ruby red bottle: Cocchi Americano Rosa.

Cocchi [say it: Co-KEE] is a vino aromatizzato (=a wine that has been flavoured with herbs, spices, and drinks like a slightly sweet vermouth).  Cocchi comes from Piedmont, so unsurprisingly Moscato d’Asti makes up the wine that is then spiced up with orange peel and cinchona bark (quinine) among other things.  The cinchona, which provides a characteristic bitterness, is a common ingredient among this family of drinks – namely for its anti-malaria properties that were important in the late 19th century.  The recipe has remained unchanged since that period, unlike other aperitif wines of this sort, like France’s controversially modernized Lillet.  A bottle of Cocchi is something of an aperitif time capsule in this respect. 

Cocchi comes in white and “Rosa” variations.  The white one tastes a bit more citrusy while the Rosa plays up the orange peel flavours.

Cocchi is excellent chilled – maybe with a touch of soda water – and sipped on its own (and at 16.5% ABV it should be respected and not rushed).  However it’s versatile so you’d do well to experiment.   Try mixing it with Prosecco or lemonade for something easy or get serious with some gin to create a Rosa martini.

My Cocchi Rosa Autumn Apertivo I just concocted (and am enjoying as we speak) is pretty easy…give it a try:

  • 2 oz. Cocchi Americano Rosa
  • 2 oz. Grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. Cassis liqueur
  • a splash of soda water

Add ingredients to a shaker with ice.  Shake, strain into a classic-sized (=smaller) cocktail glass.

Aubrie Talarico

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