One of the fears of doling out advice as I do in my every-other-week newspaper column is a sense of responsibility. I really have this desire to help people enjoy better wine.

So when I suggest a particular wine or a particular grape, I do try to consider it carefully.

There aren’t many folks who haven’t had some sort of red italian wine with some pasta – even if you’re not a wine drinker. Many of us, me included, started with Riunite Lambrusco from the grocery store. Riunite got me started drinking wine. And if it wasn’t that for you, it was probably white zinfindal. The path to wine appreciation starts with very humble origins indeed.

Lambrusco dates back to Roman times in Italy. It’s an old and noble grape that today is best known for it’s cheap supermarket product, though it can be used – and is – to make other wines.

But we are all more serious about our wines now, right; so we are looking for something a bit more sophisticated. I’d recommend a Dolcetto wine. This evening I opened a nice bottle of Dolcetto D’ Alba and enjoyed it with some dynamite pasta.

The wine was a 2005 from the San Guilio region. San Guilio is an island in the Piedmont region in northern Italy. This particular wine, (I couldn’t find a picture of the label) was a very nice, easy to drink, and enjoyable. Dolcetto means “little sweet one,” but the wine is a dry wine that goes great with pasta, pizza, or similar foods.

It is easy to drink and that’s the key. Italian wines can be big, bold, acidic and challenging for the average wine drinker. That’s why I think a Dolcetto D’ Alba is a great introduction to Italian wines.

The wines also fall easily into the category of under $20. You can find them in almost any wine store. Good ones are often no more than $9-$12. So here is a case where I’m recommending a grape. It will get you into the wonderful Old World style wines of Italy.

Graduation ceremonies include Barolos and Brunellos! I’ll write about those one of these days too! I wish they came in under $20 but those are much bigger and much more expensive bottles of juice!

And since this blog is supposed to complement my wine newspaper column, I should throw in a quick explanation. Note I didn’t offer the name of the particular bottle I had this evening. It’s not important. When I write about old world wines, it’s largely about Europe. And with France and Italy, in particular, wines are known for the region and much less the name of the producer.

So with that next pasta dish, try a Dolcetto D’ Alba. They’re easy to find. I think you’ll like it.

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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