Drinking Tonight: 2 Italian Whites

We’re enjoying the last of summery weather right now, so I’m having a light dinner tonight – salad, cheese, and hummus. I’m opening two bottles of inexpensive Italian white from Trader Joe’s that should pair well.

Photo0239Both wines involve the classic Italian grape, Pinot Grigio. The first wine, Vola, is only 16% Pinot Grigio – the other 84% is Trebbiano (known in France as Ugni Blanc). Trebbiano is a workhorse grape that’s grown across Italy; this blend comes from the southeastern corner of the country. Contadino is 100% Pinot Grigio, from its traditional growing region in the northeast, around Venice. The are both current vintages, harvested about one year ago – you should always buy the most recent vintage of Pinot Grigio and other light-bodied Italian whites, as they do not improve with age.

Vola Trebbiano Pinot Grigio (2012) Puglia, Italy – $4.00

Color: very pale yellow

Aroma: fruity – aromas of grapes and apple juice, and a touch of dry apple cider.

Taste: light and fruity – white grapes and a touch of apple. Dry and verging on crisp, but not acrid or tart in any way. Pleasant but not powerful. A quick, light, clean finish.

Contadino Pinot Grigio (2012) Della Venezie, Italy – $6.50

Color: even paler, but with a touch of green in the center of the glass.

Aroma: classic Pinot Grigio nose of citrus fruit and minerality.

Taste: crisp and lively on the tongue, with a fuller body and some darker notes underneath – almost a hint of carmelized or candied fruit. Quite well balanced and harmonious for an inexpensive Pinot,

I’m not sure what to say about the Vola. The flavor profile is unusual, and pairing food with it isn’t easy. You could make white Sangria with it, but I’m afraid the wine would be lost under the mango, apricot, and citrus fruit. Best to leave it on the shelf unless you really need something to serve with fruit salad at a multi-course brunch.

Contadino, on the other hand, is a winner. This brand has been a best-seller at Trader Joe’s since I worked there over 4 years ago, and it’s still an excellent choice for an everyday Pinot Grigio, and the price is hard to beat.  Recommended.


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