This Extremely Food-Friendly Wine Commands Respect with Darker Fruits and More Tannins


Grapes: 100% Dolcetto

Location: Alba, Piedmont, Italy

Winery Owners: Giovanni and Silvano Pasquero

Approximate Retail Price: $20


Tasting Notes

Color: Deep ruby hue, reflective and slightly opaque

Aroma: Dark cherry and licorice laced with mild tobacco and mild earthiness

Taste: Delightfully medium-bodied and full of delicious red fruits with mild tannins and acidity

A few months ago, I wrote about red wines from Piedmont, bragging not only about the noble Barolo and Barbaresco, both made from nebbiolo, but also of the grapes barbera and dolcetto. Last time, the focus fell on Daniele Conterno’s barbera d’Alba, with the hopes of tantalizing you into the fruitier wines of Piedmont. But today, let’s investigate dolcetto – more specifically, a dolcetto from one of Piedmont’s oldest and most respected wineries, Paitin.

Paitin officially begins its own history in 1796, but the family can claim roots in Piedmont as far back as the early 15th century. The Pasquero (originally spelled Pasquiero) family came from a line of military tradition, and in 1537, Giovanni Pasquiero, then a lieutenant of the Castle of Casale, was awarded lands in Cereseto. By 1636, the family finally settled in Neive, where they remain today.

Growth in wine production (as well as land acquisition) over the coming centuries was slow and steady, working predominantly with nebbiolo, which still at that time had yet to realize its true potential as one of the noble grapes of Italy. By 1898, Paitin was making quality Barbaresco and exporting it commercially.

After decades of war and economic dips and spikes, the Paitin winery made major renovations in the 1960s, replanting vines and rebuilding its winery.

While Paitin’s major focus remains on nebbiolo and the many Barbarescos and single-vineyard Barbarescos Paitin produces, it also still make wines from other varietals, including the white grape arneis and dolcetto.

Dolcetto and barbera, as mentioned last time, can tend to live under the shadow of the more well-known nebbiolo of Barbaresco and Barolo, but have also both begun to increase in popularity and quality. Dolcetto, like barbera, is a lighter, fruitier grape that can produce extremely food-friendly wine. But it can also be used to make a slightly bigger wine with darker fruits and more tannins.

In keeping with the Paitin style of making bigger, more boisterous wine, its dolcetto, named Rivoli – a reference to a smaller region inside Alba where these grapes are sourced – tends to command a little more respect from the drinker, while still behaving like an easy-drinking, light-to-medium wine.

Food Pairings: Dolcetto goes easily with charcuteries and cheeses, grilled vegetables, grilled fish and, of course, meats like chicken, duck or pork – although the Paitin dolcetto will easily stand up to beef or game.

Certified Sommelier Stanley Browne owns Robust Wine Bar in Webster Groves.