It’s tough enough to learn the differences between a syrah and a shiraz, a port and a prosecco, a red blend and a bland red or why they call it white zinfandel when it’s most definitely pink! Wine is complicated like that. At the root of things, it seems like nobody knows what they’re talking about.
But if you’re nodding your head with that certain air of superiority (you knew all that stuff!), then welcome to the world of Italian wine, where grape varietals are as indecipherable and abundant as towns and regions, and people throw around terms like super Tuscan to mean something other than a guy with extra-sensory perception. In Italy, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different grape varietals, only a small portion of them documented. Instead of the regular merlot or pinot grigio, you get a barbera from Alba or a barolo or barbaresco, which are actually made from nebbiolo.
Tavolino owner Massimo Tenino invited his brother Paolo Tenino to sort out some of these perplexities at a Friday-night tasting. Paolo tasted eight wines from his family vineyards in Piedmont, Italy, where he lives.—Andi Berlin, Special to Metromix