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I called out for pizza last night, but all I had around the house was a Merlot (straight up--no blend) I knew would fight with the tomato sauce, as such "big" red wines are wont to do. I would have stopped at the liquor store, but it was after 8 pm and I was left with the pitiful selection at the local supermarket. The best I could do here was this Barbera hailing from Piedmont ("Ecco Domani" is actually the name of the US import company). I paid $8, and it turned out to be pretty much OK.

For Piedmontese wines, 1997 was a great harvest. Of course, when you buy something for $8 in the supermarket, odds are you're getting what was left of the 1997 grapes after the good ones got sold off to better wineries. OK, OK, I'm ranting a bit...now on to the actual review.

Like many Italian reds, this wine was pleasantly light-bodied and easy to drink; and it did, in fact, go very well with the pizza (I chose it as I heard a wine expert note that Barberas have low acidity, allowing them to pair well with acidic foods). It was, however, an uncomplicated wine: somewhat sweet and too low in alcohol to achieve any real balance. The faint berry and black pepper aromas were enjoyable and did not overwhelm, as so often happens in cheap wines that attempt to be something they're not. The wine offered a short, but not too short, finish. I drank it relatively cool, perhaps in the range of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

I used to drink a lot of Italian reds, back in the "old days" when my palate revolted at the powerful, full bodied taste of Cabernet Sauvignons. I have since come to realize that it's easier to have a bad experience with a cheap and complex wine than with a cheap and simple wine, and thus my tastings have shifted. In a way, this is bad news, as many Italian reds (such as Valpolicellas and Montepulcianos) offer an excellent drinking experience and should not be ignored. Hopefully, more may enter my review list in the not-too-distant future.

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