The title “Summer Endless” came to mind this week when I read the following line from a write-up and round-up of a wine writer’s favorite “summer wines.”
“Barbera d’Asti is the essential wine with a plate of sliced tomatoes dressed with vinegar and oil and basil,” she wrote. It’s not exactly what you would call a “traditional” pairing. But, hey, that’s okay.
One of the great things about Barbera d’Asti is its versatility at the dinner table — or summer picnic, as the case may be. As we’ve written countless times before, Barbera’s natural acidity makes it the ultimate “food-friendly wine” and it can pair with nearly anything, including seafood as we wrote in a recent post.
While the people who live and make Barbera d’Asti might reach for different foods to pair with the wine, it’s important to note that in the land of Barbera d’Asti, most folks only drink red wine, even with fish and vegetables (which rare appear on traditional menus). And they’re happy for people to pair Barbera d’Asti with whatever they fancy!
But the thing that struck me about this particular wine writer’s article was that she thinks of Barbera d’Asti primarily as a “summer” wine. And while Barbera d’Asti definitely can be a great wine for summer, it’s also a winter, spring, and fall wine as well.
It’s unfortunate but true that here in the U.S. we have ghettoized Barbera d’Asti as a wine we reach for especially during the warm months of summer. This attitude has eclipsed the spectrum of “weights” that Barbera d’Asti can land with: From the light, super fresh expressions of stainless-steel aged Barbera d’Asti that we pair with the lighter and spicier foods of summer to the more meaty and earthy cask-aged Barbera d’Asti that we pair with grilled meats and roasts of fall and winter.
One of the things that Barbera d’Asti producers are going to need to do to break out of this “endless summer” loop is to connect with writers like the one in this case. She’ll be happy to learn, no doubt, that Barbera can pair with so much more than summer tomatoes and basil.
In the meantime, surf’s up! And so are the tomatoes and basil. And that’s just fine with me.