For those in search of a fun, vivacious wine for your summer soirées, look no further than Brachetto d’Acqui. This is one of the world’s best sweet wines and an Italian dessert wine everyone should try at least once. Though I guarantee once won’t be enough. If you’re not really into sweet wines, worry not. While Brachetto d’Acqui wines have a noticeable level of sweetness, they are not cloying or overly sweet. In fact, they’re just as good paired with sweet and savory Asian cuisine, spicy dishes, and barbecue as they are when served with dessert.
Where is Brachetto d’Acqui Made?
The Brachetto grape is native to Piemonte in northwestern Italy where the revered Barolo and Barbaresco reign supreme. Specifically, it’s from the Acqui Terme zone in the Province of Alessandria. Located amidst the foothills of the Alps, Piedmont has cool, harsh winters, hot summers with typically mild spring and autumn seasons. It’s considered a continental climate with Mediterranean and Alpine influences. The diurnal temperature swing, or difference from warmer daytime to cooler nighttime temperatures, is quite significant. Consequently, these climatic conditions help fully ripen Brachetto grapes to the right sugar content. While the cooler evening temperatures preserve the invigorating aromas for which this Italian dessert wine is known. Additionally, the Italian wine region’s marl and calcareous clay soils help enhance aromatic lift and acidity.
Brachetto d’Acqui Pronunciation: brah-keh-toe dah-kwee
Italian wine words can be tricky. Here’s how to pronounce this mouthwatering Italian dessert wine.
What is Brachetto d’Acqui?
The Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG was established in 1996 and regulates production of three different styles of wine:
- Red wine – these wines are low in residual sugar and can be slightly effervescent, or frizzante
- Spumante – sparkling wines made in the Charmat method in which secondary fermentation occurs in pressurized tanks.
- Passito – the grapes are dried for at least 9 months before fermentation to concentrate sugars and flavors. These will be the sweetest with the highest alcohol (11%). It’s also the rarest style.
Fermentation is typically stopped early by filtration before all of the sugars have been converted to alcohol, leaving some residual sweetness.
The wine is named for the grape variety from which it’s made and the region where it’s produced. Brachetto grapes have a naturally high sugar content and concentrated aromas due to high levels of terpenes.
Wine Tasting Flavor Profile
Brachetto d’Acqui is adored for its elegance, lively aromatics, balanced sweetness, and low alcohol. These wines are meant to be consumed young within two years of bottling. Expect a stunning ruby red color in the glass with aromas for roses, violets, and juicy red fruits like strawberries and raspberries.
Where to Buy This Italian Wine
Considering this is an Italian wine with which most people aren’t familiar, Brachetto D’Acqui is pretty widely available. A quick query on Wine Searcher will poll up some of the best producers. My personal favorite is the Marenco Pineto. This wine is irresistibly good. It’s so aromatic and elegant, bursting with aromas of raspberry, rose petals, and strawberry jolly rancher. A light effervescence dances across the beautifully harmonious palate. I couldn’t get enough.
If you’re in the United States, snag the Marenco Pineto Brachetto D’Acqui on The Organic Wine Store. Use code PALMVINE5 for 5% off.
Brachetto D’Acqui vs. Lambrusco
Be sure not to confuse Brachetto with another red sparkling Italian wine called Lambrusco. The latter comes from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Lambrusco is broken into various appellations and each offers different styles made with an array of grape varieties. There are sweeter, fruit-forward versions brimming with red fruit flavors and more savory, tannic, dry versions, too. Some are made in the same traditional method as Champagne, where others are produced in the more affordable Charmat method. Learn more about Lambrusco here.
Recommended Wine Pairings
Since this is a sweet wine, Brachetto d’Acqui is a great go-to wine pairing for desserts. A good rule of thumb when pairing sweet wines with food is to match the sweetness level of the wine with that of the food. With this in mind, Italian dessert wines made with Brachetto are an ideal match for fruit based desserts, especially those with berries. This wine is particularly delicious when paired with strawberry tarts, blueberry pie, peach blueberry cobbler, and chocolate covered strawberries. The sweet, juicy, and tart berry flavors of these desserts complement the floral, berry-forward aromatics of Brachetto beautifully. Alternatively, try this wine with nutty desserts like pecan pie, a caramel nut tart, or a torta di nocciole (hazelnut cake). The nuttiness of these desserts really make the red fruit flavors of Brachetto pop.
If you’re looking for a wine pairing a bit more outside the box, then Asian cuisine makes a fantastic wine pairing for Brachetto d’Acqui. Try pairing this wine with dishes that incorporate sweet and savory elements. Bonus points if there is a nutty element to the dish. Think pad thai, kung pao chicken, teriyaki chicken, mongolian beef, or General Tso’s chicken. These dishes have enough sweetness to complement the sweetness level of the wine. While their savory flavors are a tantalizing contrast to the fruit and floral notes of Brachetto.
Moreover, the sweetness in Brachetto d’Acqui is perfect to pair with spicy dishes like chicken tikka masala or other flavorful curries. This is also a wonderful wine to pair with barbecue ribs or pulled pork slathered in BBQ sauce.
For irresistible cheese pairings, try Brachetto d’Acqui with gorgonzola, aged gouda, havarti, and fontina.
Brachetto is best served chilled in medium-bowl glasses to help you appreciate each of this wine’s delightful aromas.