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Dolcetto Red Wine Variety

The name means "sweet" but the wines are usually dry

Dolcetto grapesDolcetto grapes. Image: By Agne27 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29923432

Dolcetto is an Italian red wine grape variety which is popular in the cooler northern regions of Italy, particularly in the Piedmont and Liguria regions.

Its early ripening makes it a feasible choice in areas where Barbera and Nebbiolo would struggle to ripen.

The variety is noted for producing relatively low acid wines. The strong dark colour of the grape is reflected in the deep colour of the wine. Low to moderate acidity and tannins mean that these wines are best consumed fairly young, and they are rarely great wines.

Brown Brothers blends Dolcetto with Shiraz, or Syrah as it says on the label to make a popular sweetish red. Unfortunately this wine has perpetuated the idea that Dolcetto wines are sweet.

Steve De Long, on his Wine Grape Varietal Table describes these wines as

Deep purple, intensely fruity, almonds, plums, blackberries...

Dolcetto in Australia

The variety hasn't taken off in Australia like some of the other red Italian varieties, such as the increasingly popular Sangiovese. It seems that Australia is the only country outside Italy that has significant plantings of the variety. It is an early ripening variety and hence suitable for cooler regions. However there are some attractive Australian Dolcetto wines being made. They don't taste like Shiraz.

Ben Glaetzer of Heartland wines blends 30% of this variety with Lagrein for an interesting dry red.

  • Alpha Box and Dice McLaren Vale
  • Bests Grampians
  • Brown Brothers King Valley
  • Calabria Family Wines Riverina
  • Catherine Vale Vineyard Hunter Valley
  • Ceravolo Premium Wines Adelaide Plains
  • Ciavarella King Valley
  • Crittenden at Dromana Mornington Peninsula
  • Dromana Estate Mornington Peninsula
  • Gracebrook Vineyards King Valley
  • Grant Burge Barossa Valley
  • Heartland Wines Limestone Coast Zone
  • La Cantina King Valley King Valley
  • Massena Wines Barossa Valley
  • Mount Franklin Estate Macedon Ranges
  • Parish Hill Wines Adelaide Hills
  • Route du Van Yarra valley
  • Symphonia King Valley
  • Turkey Flat Vineyards Barossa Valley
  • Unico Zelo Adelaide Hills
  • Vale Creek Wines Central Ranges Zone
  • Wanted Man Heathcote
  • Warburn Estate Riverina
  • Warrenmang Vineyard Pyrenees
  • Woodstock McLaren Vale
  • Yacca Paddock Vineyards Adelaide Hills
  • Zonte's Footstep Langhorne Creek

More Italian red wine varieties used in Australia

Aglianico | Barbera | Canaiolo Nero | Colorino | Corvina | Dolcetto | Lagrein | Mammolo | Marzemino | Montepulciano | Nebbiolo | Negroamaro | Nero d'Avola | Primitivo | Refosco | Rondinella | Sagrantino | Sangiovese | Teroldego | Zinfandel

Dolcetto and food

These red wines are probably best consumed young, with some of your favourite tomato based Italian cuisine. They are often robust enough to be paired with antipasto where they will be consumed with sharp pickled foods, salted anchovies or savoury salamis all at once.

They are also suitable for Asian foods where their fruity flavours can compete with spicier flavours.

Next time you find a good Dolcetto why not try it with a chicken liver risotto, or perhaps a gnocchi with a cheese sauce.

In his book The Wine Lover Cooks Italian Brain St Pierre suggests that this is one red wine that goes well with white meats such as chicken or turkey. 

Daring pairings has a whole chapter devoted to Dolcetto

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