Dolcetto is not a small dessert and in general, its name is completely wrong. Translated it means "little sweet", but the red wine is not sweet at all, on the contrary. Dolcetto wines are rather dry and have a strong character, with lots of fruit and hearty tannins. Perhaps its name comes from the Piedmontese dusset, which in dialect means back or hill. This could still make sense, as Dolcetto often grows on the same hills as Nebbiolo, but on the shady side. It was planted there primarily because it gets by with less sun and has a shorter ripening period than the Nebbiolo grape. Dolcetto also produces decent yields of good quality in less favoured areas. Its home is Piedmont, where the Dolcetto grape is the second most common red wine variety after Barbera. But in terms of its relevance, the grape only makes it to 3rd place, not only on the hills is it in the shadow of the Piedmont star, Nebbiolo.
It is unfair to compare the two, the Dolcetto wines have a pronounced right to exist, simply playing on a different field. They are excellent food companions and complement a hearty, good everyday cuisine with lively acidity, lots of fresh fruit and a pleasant length. They are full of character but not very heavy in alcohol, balanced and harmonious in bouquet. What else? They score with a wonderful ruby red, are dry and soft and above all: extremely palatable. Dolcetto, together with Barbera, is the everyday wine in Piedmont par excellence, where Barolo is not drunk as a table wine.
Its origins are debated, but it is known that the grape variety was cultivated a thousand years ago in Monferrato, between the Maritime Alps and the Po. It is an ancient vine that spread to the areas around Milan and Piacenza and can be found in France and in North and South America. In Italy, the Dolcetto grape is classified in seven DOC areas.
And finally: drink Dolcetto young, at a drinking temperature between 16 and 18 degrees. Treat yourself to a hearty meal with it, because it is not really the solo player for in between. But with accompaniment it has show potential.
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