American wine lovers learn about wine largely from glass pours at restaurants.
In a world where independent wine retailers are ever fewer and farther between, Craig Perman’s Perman Wine Selections is a shining example of how progressive wine tastes can align with a successful business model. Craig, a longtime veteran of the wine industry, is widely considered to be the top Italian buyer in Chicago, one of the most exciting “emerging” wine markets in the U.S. today.
What was your first experience with Barbera d’Asti?
I “grew up” in the wine business back in Portland, Oregon. As one of the great markets for Piemontese wines, my first experiences with Barbera d’Asti came from tasting some glass with Piedmont producers.
What do you like about Barbera d’Asti as opposed to other top Italian grape varieties?
Over the past few years, red wines with either low alcohol or good acidity have been “on trend.” While alcohol levels in Barbera d’Asti seem to be going up due to global warming, it is the wines’ freshness that I crave.
Barbera is often called “the ultimate food wine,” thanks to its freshness, bright fruit flavors, and versatility. What’s your favorite traditional pairing and your favorite creative pairing?
A great plate of tajarin with a rabbit ragú would be my favorite traditional paring. Not traditional would be a dish like Bibimbap, the salty/savory and spice quality can match really well with Barbera, although I may suggest not such an insanely hot version.
Are your clients familiar with Barbera d’Asti?
Absolutely. Are they less familiar with it than Barbera d’Alba, probably so. But for most customers these are fairly interchangeable, they simply love Barbera.
Do your clients associate Barbera d’Asti with Piedmont?
My clients do, but then again, we are a shop that sells a lot of the wines of Piedmont.
What’s your advice to Barbera d’Asti producers on how to reach American sommeliers and consumers?
While the cost of production of wine continues to go up, it is still vital that we have some well-made versions of Barbera d’Asti find their way to our shores at a cost that allows it to be poured by the glass in restaurants. People learn about wine largely from glass pours at restaurants. So whatever it takes, make that happen!