Friday, February 10, 2017

Cusumano 2015 Nero D’Avola, Italy

Cusumano 2015 Nero D'Avola with PizzaThree billion pizzas are sold in the US each year. What goes best with this Italian specialty? How about a bottle of a little known wine from Italia?

Our Love Affair With Pizza

You know that America’s love of pizza has turned to obsession when research last year showed that six million US adults said they would give up sex for a year before giving up pizza. We do enjoy a good slice, but we’re not part of the six million.

We are part of the demographic that loves the Super Bowl, pizza a good red wine. You can thank GIs stationed in Italy who returned after World War II with a hankering for pizza they had discovered overseas. Pizzerias began sprouting between 1945 and 1960 and then the chains entered the picture. Pizza Hut started in 1958, Little Caesar’s emerged in 1959 and Domino’s came along in 1960. Papa John’s trailed the pack and opened in 1989.

Chain pizza helps us “scratch our itch,” but we prefer to make our own pizza. As the Falcons soared to an early lead, the Green Dragon was artfully preparing a Hawaiian style pizza (ham and pineapple) and a mushroom and pepperoni. To accompany our pizza pies, I selected the 2015 Nero D’Avola from Cusumano.

Autochthonous, Baby!

Yes, I did use “autochthonous” simply to get you to continue to read further. But it is a word with an important wine meaning. Autochthonous grapes are native or indigenous varieties that usually aren’t found in other parts of the world. This contrasts with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay that can grow in numerous locales around the globe.

Italy is known for its vast array of native grapes, including Nero D’Avola. This “black grape of Avola” is the most important red wine grape in Sicily. A good rule of thumb when pairing wine with food is to choose a wine from the same region as the food. Nero D’Avola with a Sicilian specialty like pizza is a perfect match.

While the Falcons were being humbled by a historic come-from-behind loss, we were able to get solace from the Cusumano. This is a ruby red wine with a medium body. It has nice extracted fruit flavors of blackberry with some herbal notes. The tannins are very loose and so this is an inviting and highly accessible wine.

This is 100% Nero D’Avola that the Cusumano family grows in mineral-rich soils on the island of Sicily. Like the best pizzas, this wine is simple and authentic. At less than $15, this is a pizza-friendly and wallet-friendly wine.

Full disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.

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