Our tasting this week will feature wines from the Piedmont region in northwest Italy, along the border with Switzerland and France. Almost completely surrounded by the Alps, it’s known for its mountains and glaciers. The best-known wines from the region include Barolo and Barbaresco, both made from the Nebbiolo grape. Nebbiolo is derived from the word “Nebbia” meaning “fog” and referring to the “bloom” or dust on the grape during harvest. The grape is fuzzy like the pinot noir grape and difficult to manage. Nebbiolo makes up 8% of the grape production in the Piedmont region, but that represents the largest production of the grape in the world. Our wines from the Piedmont on Friday will include Eredi Barbera d’Asti, Reva Dolcetto d’Alba, Scarzello Nebbiolo d’Alba, and Crotin Monferrato Bianco Plisun
Along with these wines, we will be sampling Pecorino Romano. This raw, organic sheep’s milk cheese comes to us from Sias Dairy in Italy. A cheese that is believed to have been around for two thousand years or more, it’s still made using a process similar to the traditional, very-old-school methods. It was originally made near Rome, it takes its name from that city, and was a staple of the diet of Roman armies. Now made primarily in Sardinia, Pecorino Romano is a flaky and crumbly cheese with a pale yellow color and a very sharp, salty taste. It’s an excellent grating cheese that is often heaped over pasta dishes, breads and casseroles instead of its less salty and less sharp cousin, Parmesan.