Nero d’Avola, Italian for “Black of Avola,” is the most dominant black grape grown on the Sicilian island of Italy. The wine is medium-full body with medium acidity, medium tannin and high alcohol. It can be made lighter and fruity for early drinking, or developed and complex for premium, aged expressions. Historically speaking, Nero d’Avola was commonly used as a blending grape with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. However, recent decades have given rise to the grape being enjoyed as a single varietal. Today, it is produced under the IGT Terre di Sicilia and Sicilia DOC classifications.
This grape is known for its dark and black fruit characteristics. Its primary fruit flavors are black cherry, blackberry, juicy black plum, blueberry, chili pepper, and licorice. Some expressions have a slight “dusty” taste, common in red wines grown in remnants from Mt. Etna’s volcano ash. When Nero d’Avola spends time in oak barrels, it also picks up secondary flavors of cinnamon, spice and charred sweet wood. Bottle-aged expressions will also have slight hints of tobacco.
Nero d’Avola pairs well with rich meats, as its acidity cuts through the fats and oil of these hearty cuisines. It is often enjoyed alongside juicy steaks, BBQ, meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, pork chops and veal. It also compliments bold and savory dishes like mushrooms, oxtail soup, lasagna, pizza, pecorino cheese, ricotta and aged provolone.
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