Grilling with Frappato and Cerasuolo di Vittoria

Pairing summer food with unexpected Sicilian wines


I’ve got grilling on my mind.

Yes, we’re all talking about grilling and I’m talking about pairing wine with your grilled food. You expected that, right?

But did you expect me to turn around and suggest that you pair your grilling with Frappato or Cerasuolo di Vittoria? Of course not, because nobody expects Cerasuolo di Vittoria. Frappato, on the other hand, is a goer, nudge nudge, wink, wink, say no more!

Say what? Okay, late 1970s Britcom references aside, both Frappato (which is a grape) and Cerasuolo di Vittoria(which combines Nero d’Avola with Frappato) come from Sicily and should be on your radar this summer. These are perfect wines for grilling, rich and fruity with bright acidity but never over the top. They play the perfect second fiddle to grilled food gone adult and by that I mean free of gloopy, gloppy, sweet sauces.

So fire up the grill, whip out some Mediterranean marinades. Think garlic, mint, maybe orange rind, rosemary and thyme; and grab a bottle of Frappato or Cerasuolo di Vittoria. It’ll make it a summer to remember.

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Frappato is a grape and the red wine made from that grape, coming from the province of Ragusa that roughly covers the southwest half of the southern tip of Sicily.

The wines made with Frappato tend to be rather light-bodied, especially when one thinks of these as Sicilian red wines. But at the same time they are wonderfully light and fresh; red wines that can take a light chill and are somewhat similar to a good Beaujolais, though with a bit more fruit.

Frappato makes for the perfect summer wine, combining refreshing acidity, moderate alcohol and a wonderful freshness of fruit that may never be profound, but almost always bring a smile to one’s face.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria

If you’re looking to take things to the next level, you might want to follow the lead of the Sicilians, who beefed up their Frappato by blending it with the denser, darker Nero d’Avola.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria might seem an unlikely appellation to be awarded DOCG status, but in 2005, DOCG’ed it was. Along with that extra G in the name, the rules were changed for the wine, allowing for the reality that had set in on the ground.

While Cerasuolo di Vittoria was a DOC wine, the blend was typically 60% or more Nero d’Avola, the remainder being Frappato. As is typical in Italy this regulation was neither strictly adhered to nor strictly enforced. Under the DOCG regulations, the wines must contain between 50% and 70% Nero d’Avola, the remainder being Frappato, certainly closer to covering the majority of wines made; but some producers will still admit privately that their wines were and continue to be majority Frappato (not that anybody really cares).

Another feature of the DOCG elevation was the creation of a Classico subset of wines that come from the historic heart of the region, a region that was curiously expanded in 1995 just before being awarded the DOCG! In addition, the wines must be aged 18 months before release, as opposed to the 10 months for the standard bottling.

The blending of these two indigenous grapes produces a wine that carries traits of both: the black fruit and richness of Nero d’Avola, coupled with the bright acidity and fresh red fruits of the Frappato. This end result seems to be greater than the sum of its parts and produces a wine that not only pleases on release, but ages remarkably well as I learned from tasting during a recent visit to Sicily.

As much as I am enamored with Frappato (it is a delightfully happy wine), I am even more impressed with Cerasuolo di Vittoria. I never would have guessed that these wines could age as well as they do, fully capable of delivering complexity and elegance at a fraction of the price of many comparable wines. I strongly urge you to try a few and discover how wonderful these wines are!

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  • Snooth User: MikeD67
    366341 5

    Crazy timing for this article. Last night while at our favorite eat-in pizzeria (Torre del Pino) my wife and I enjoyed a bottle of the Cos Cerasuolo (2005 I think?). Normally from Cos we have their Maldafrica whcih is a wicked Cab-Merlot+Nero D blend - but this was really good too.

    Our newest favorite Cerasuolo is from Gulfi down by Vittoria:

    Being a Navy guy in Sicily definately has some advantages ;-)

    Jul 01, 2011 at 3:20 AM

  • Snooth User: Masaryk
    71775 16

    Big fan of the COS line up, but must give special props to the frappato from Tenuta del Nanfro....always consistent, always delicious.

    Jul 02, 2011 at 5:26 PM

  • great

    Aug 30, 2013 at 3:06 AM

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