"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round – brought to you by Aperol, Pinnacle, Jameson, Fireball, Red Stag and Avion. The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
Like many non-expert wine drinkers, I was swimming in a sea of varietals looking for something to grab hold of and float downstream with. It took my introduction to my family's ancestral homeland to find it.
In fact, my return to the hilly Monferrato area in northwestern Italy in the 1990s led me to a number of wines I hadn't really known and that I fell in love with instantly: barbera, grignolino, ruche and the white erbaluce and cortese.
I'm especially enamored with the versions Sergio DeMartini and the local farmers make at the Sette Colli coop down the hill from Moncalvo. It's down-home wine that families drink together at table, made from the most local of grapes.
The problem is in Milwaukee the most of these are often impossible to find. Once in a while they pop up here or in Chicago and I stock up a bit. But at the moment, the cellar is dry when it comes to the spicier and rarer in America red varietals grignolino and ruche.
But their absence only makes my heart grow fonder and when I get to pop open a bottle, I'm never disappointed. Instead I'm instantly transported to a table at which my cousins are arrayed, smiling and talking and eating some of the best food I've ever had.
Luckily, America has discovered the acid, low tannin barbera. It's flavorful – rich in red berries – and extremely drinkable. It's no coincidence that despite what the wine-heads will tell you about Barolo and Barbaresco, barbera is THE wine of Piemonte. It's also the third-most planted grape in Italy.
Barbera – which my cousins in Piemonte sometimes call "vino nero" (black wine) – is now synonymous with wine for me. When I think of a glass of wine, I see and smell barbera.
If you'd like try a good barbera, Michele Chiarlo's Le Orme (a barbera d'Asti) is quite easily found in Milwaukee – even at grocery stores – and retails around $12-$14.
What's your go-to grape? When someone says, "wine," what flavor is instantly triggered in your brain? Use the Talkback feature below to share.
Bobby Tanzilo | Feb. 20, 2013 at 2:02 p.m. (report)
I'd recommend Ray's on North Avenue in Wauwatosa. Thief Wine is good, too.
I'd like to try some of these, where can you usually find the less popular italian wines in the Milwaukee area? What's a normal price point? I should probably check out Gloriosos...
Personally, I currently have a case of $3 chuck shiraz in the cellar (cold spot under the basement stairs). I've had worse wines for $15, so it's reserved for simple meals & weeknight pours. Obviously I have others but this isn't my blog to fill... otherwise I prefer to sample before I buy, I'm still learning what I like.
2 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Nov. 26, 2014
Big changes are on tap at Milwaukee Art Museum, where the collections galleries are closed while the permanent collection is re-installed and an expansion project is under construction. MAM's Senior Conservator Jim DeYoung is the man charged with getting it done on time, on budget and, most importantly, without damage.
Published Nov. 25, 2014
When Mayor Tom Barrett visited Highland Community School on Monday to welcome home a group of adolescent students from China, the trip -- according to the students themselves -- wasn't officially over yet. Today, it is officially complete.
Published Nov. 25, 2014
This year, Dental Associates completed its restoration of the Iron Block Building -- actually a pair of connected buildings dating from 1860 and 1899 -- and the work put a gorgeous new luster on one of Downtown's most aged landmarks. As Milwaukee's only iron-facade building, it's a real Milwaukee gem. To look at the historic Iron Block Building on the corner of Water and Wisconsin now, you'd be hard-pressed to believe it almost didn't survive.
Published Nov. 24, 2014
The photomontages created by Eau Claire's Then and Now Photography seamlessly meld images of the same place but from different eras, creating a fascinating and unique look at how familiar sites in Milwaukee have changed over the years.
Published Nov. 22, 2014
The world's most famous ice skating rink shimmers beneath what must be the most impressive urban tree, perhaps in the world, and the shop windows in the Center and along Fifth Avenue must be seen to be believed. Crowds queue to see the holiday spectacular at Radio City Music Hall and Times Square is decked out in green and red. And all America comes to check it out.
Published Nov. 21, 2014
Few likely know the idea of farm to table better than new Blue Jacket chef Justice Neal. Neal, after all, went from farm to table himself, having grown up on 40 acres near Beloit. Recently, Neal, who served as the restaurant's sous, was promoted to replace departing chef Matt Kerley, who had run the kitchen at Blue Jacket since 2013. Since he's already launched a new menu, we decided it was time to check in with him about his work in the kitchen.
Published Nov. 21, 2014
Milwaukee Public Library looks into Milwaukee's historic public schoolhouses with a small exhibit and panel discussion at Central Library.
Published Nov. 20, 2014
Thanksgiving is on the horizon and you're hosting (or attending) a family dinner. What to do about wine? How to find something that pairs well with both turkey and cranberries? How to find a wine that appeals to you, your parents and Aunt Millie? It can be challenging, but experts say a few simple rules can help guide the way...
Published Nov. 18, 2014
One of the most recent building "booms" at Milwaukee Public Schools added a handful of new schools to the city's landscape, but at least one planned project -- and perhaps more -- never saw the light of day.
Published Nov. 14, 2014
Serious music fans will relate. Though a lot of music enters my ears, very few make the kind of impression that Lucy Wainwright Roche's 2013 record, "There's A Last Time For Everything," made on me. A year later I can tell you exactly where I was when I first popped it into the CD player and sat transfixed, unable to move. Lucy Wainwright Roche comes to Milwaukee next week, and we talked to her about it.