We spent my birthday last weekend at the beautiful Villa Bellezza winery tasting a wide selection of their current offerings, enjoying a meal on the piazza, and selecting a few wines to bring home for the wine rack. We currently have a pretty good collection of Villa Bellezza bottles on the rack. Our “nice wine” as we sometimes call it. But we don’t treat every occasion as a “nice wine” nights. Sometimes it’s nice to open a bottle of wine that you pulled from your local grocery store for $5 a bottle and find that you actually quite enjoy it as well. Sometimes it’s nice to open a bottle of wine that you thought you were just going to cook with and discover it’s highly drinkable!
Such was the case with Tavernello Sangiovese 2016. To be sure this is not a fancy bottle of wine, and as I searched around the wine reviews for average price points and availability, I was amused to find it ranked anywhere between 2 and 4.5 stars. The bottle declares it’s the “No. 1 wine in Italy,” a claim that might be true based more on the very very approachable average price point of $5 than on some magical quality of the wine in the bottle.
So why did we enjoy it so much? And we did, in fact, enjoy the whole bottle one evening. I think my feelings were perhaps captured most clearly by a review I read that said, “This is average, Italian red wine, which will only be enjoyed by anyone who isn’t used to drinking Italian red wine.” The comment, from an amateur American wine enthusiast, was the exact antithesis of how I felt about the wine. On both of our trips to Italy, we spent much of our time in small corner restaurants drinking not the best wine on the list, but the “house wine,” brought to our table in a craft, sometimes drawn straight from the barrel. This wine implicitly reminded me of those dinners, which maybe means my taste for cheap red wine is based more on emotion and nostalgia than taste itself, but still, there was something so authentic in the aroma, flavors, and memory.
The wine was also unique in that in inexplicably tastes like Cherry Coke on the finish. There are deep notes of red fruit and cherry on the nose and front of the wine, but for whatever reason, the finish is definitely cola. And once I tasted it, it was unignorable.
If you’re planning a perfect dinner party with specific wine pairings to showcase your “nice wines,” this is probably not your bottle. However, if you want a good bargain buy, an a perfect wine to combine with a carryout pizza on the couch watching a movie, this is a $5 winner!