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February was a difficult month for wine and food matching and it has been quite an adventure to discover such a gorgeous red wine. It is from the beautiful Piedmont region in northwest Italy and has DOCG on the neck of the bottle. This means that the wine producers have followed the strictest regulations possible when making the wine and that the grapes are guaranteed to have come from the area stated on the label. it is a sign of quality. In the glass, the colour was the darkest ruby. The alcohol volume of 14% meant the legs clung to the sides of the glass enticingly willing me to taste before assessing its nose. Straight from the bottle the nose was very fresh. This dispersed quickly to leave a nose of musty potpourri and white pepper, herbaceous rather than fruit driven. On the palate, it was dry and surprisingly smooth for a wine of this price. There was black fruit with a slight hint of aniseed and then slight vanilla. I purchased Barbera D’Asti 2015 for a match with duck because I was trying to find a Pinot Noir substitute, but it was a disaster. Strange really because Pinot Noir, like this Barbera, is a wine which typically matches duck and has low tannin levels and high levels of acidity. However, the disappointment soon turned to triumph when I returned to grass roots and remembered the adage, ‘What grows together, goes together’ and decided to pair it with authentic Italian meatballs in tomato sauce served with spaghetti. I had some meatballs in my freezer made by Luigi, the chef at Alghero restaurant in Upper Parkstone, Poole. He had made the food so that I could create an Italian night at home during half term. Because the duck had not matched, I left the wine in the decanter overnight. After 24 hours the flavours in the wine had opened further and Morello black cherry, not tasted the night before, was prominent. The aniseed was gone. It was an amazing wine because the taste was very full, but it was medium in body. The wine complimented the rich tomato sauce of the meatballs, which were light and delicious, and it was an absolute perfect match. Barbera D’Asti 2015 from the Co-op’s Irresistible range, was purchased from the Co-op in Moordown, Bournemouth and cost £6.99.
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Read my monthly wine and food column in The Bournemouth Echo on the first Saturday of each month.