Grignolino: “The Wine of All the Good People”
For this edition of Barbera: in the Glass, we actually fill our glasses with something a bit different (shh! don’t tell Barbera!): the sometimes wild, usually friendly, and always unique Grignolino. Guiding me through this sampling of one of Monferrato’s most compelling wine grapes is Paolo Bava, who happens to be among Piedmonte’s most vocal champions of this grape.
Interestingly, while Grignolino might not yet be quite as well-known as Piedmont’s media darlings Barbera and Nebbiolo, it was a different case in the 1800s, when it was described as making “the table wine of all the good people.” Lest you think that Grignolino was mere pedestrian fare, bear in mind that its wines were still garnering praise at the end of the nineteenth century – from kings. So, while Grignolino is definitely seeing increased interest internationally (especially with those seeking wines that are off-the-beaten-path but still deliver high quality and food-friendliness), we’re only about, oh, two hundred years or so late to the party.
It’s also worth noting that Monferrato’s renowned vinous versatility is on full display with this unique grape. It might be the vinous equivalent of an ironic plot twist that such a tranquil and gorgeous place (I mean, c’mon, just take a look at the incredibly picturesque scenery in the video to confirm that one…) can produce such a wild, exuberant, and colorful fine character as Grignolino. But ironic or not, that particular juxtaposition of the calming and the exuberant is a lucky break for us lovers of Northern Italy’s more interesting red wines. We’ll take it!
Take a gander at the video to get a closer look at the wildly amiable Grignolino, and to find it why it might work better on releasing that built-up tension in your shoulders than a week at the spa…