For a long time, Dolectto was a distant third among the red wines of Piemonte. Of course Barolo is still king and Barbera remains delicious with very special wines coming from some producers. However, improved viticulture and winemaking has raised Dolcetto wine from a rustic dinner companion to a beautiful, nuanced glass.
In Italian, Dolcetto means “little, sweet one,” but the wine has backbone. The grape’s skin is loaded with tannin and color. Quick fermentations keep tannins friendly on the palate, but don’t compromise the dark, vivid ruby-purple hue.
Acidity tends to be low in Dolcetto, so it’s not a candidate for long aging. A couple of years in the cellar is reasonable though. And the best examples of Dolcetto wine will improve for up to five years.
The benefit of structure with limited acidity to wine enthusiasts is a soft, somewhat luxurious mouthfeel. That, coupled with round fruit and enticing notes of licorice and almond make Dolcetto wine a happy drinker.
Seven DOCs in Piemonte are dedicated to Dolcetto. Dolcetto d’Alba is considered the finest region for the grape overall. However, Dolcetto Diana d’Alba and Dolcetto Dogliano are close runners up.
Dolcetto wine is not finicky when it comes to food. Pour a glass with grilled or roasted chicken or red meat. Pasta works too. And you can even throw in tomato-based sauces for the protein or pasta. Burgers will do, so too pork chops, sausage and salami. Or just order yourself a meaty, cheesy pizza.