When you hear the word “Pecorino” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It’s probably a delicious aged cheese that you ate on your last trip to Italy. What you might not know is that Pecorino also happens to be a crisp white wine that is a perfect pairing for the cheese by the very same name. Now, before we get into why you need to grab a bottle of pecorino, or two, on your next trip to your favorite Italian wine shop, there are a few things you need to know about Pecorino wine.
Where is Pecorino Produced in Italy
Just 3 hours from Rome, near the Apennines Mountain range, you’ll find Pecorino Wine produced in the regions of Le Marche & Abruzzo. These Terroirs are ideal for its growth. With the ability to grow to an altitude of 3,000 feet (1,000m), Pecorino Wine is produced from a hardy and resistant white grape that does well with the cooler weather located inland of Italy’s Adriatic coast. The same Adriatic coast line that you’ll explore on tour, including a visit to the Original Purveyor of Pecorino wine, when you join us on either Italy’s Epicurean Journey or Italy Undiscovered.
History of Pecorino Wine
The Birthplace of the grapes used in Pecorino wine is thought to be Le Marche. Pecorino grapes were originally found growing naturally in the Apennines of central Italy. During the early 1980’s a pioneer of wine making, Guido Cocci Grifoni, decided to implant the grapevines used in making Pecorino wine on the hills of southern Le Marche, near One of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages: Offida (a town you’ll visit when you join us on Italy’s Epicurean Journey). The cool winds that come in from Eastern Europe favored this grape, making it perfect for growth on the eastern side of Italy. This is why you’ll often see pecorino grapes facing north when travelling the region on your tour with us. Although the grapevines grew for thousands of years in the wild and were eaten as regular grapes, the wine itself only started to reach its full potential in the past 20 years. Now it has become a favorite pairing for Aperitivo time. Prior to gaining this popularity it was mainly used to “cut” other wines and sold as table wine.
The Real Story Behind the Name: Pecorino
Contrary to the popular belief that the name Pecorino originated during the period of “Transumanza” when the sheep would eat this grape as they scaled the Apennine mountains, there are actually two different hypotheses on its true origin. The first one has to do with the fact that the grapes used in making Pecorino wine were not considered very good and only humble people such as the “pecorari” (a derogatory term used for sheep herders) would eat them. Secondly, there’s a much more credible naming story that has to do with Pecorino having a second fermentation during the spring. This second fermentation of Pecorino wine gives it a vivacious taste accompanied by bubbles (Pecorino wine is now a firm white). The nature of the wine makes it pair perfectly with the pecorino cheese so beloved in the central mountains of Le Marche, Italy, that winemakers called it Pecorino.
Pecorino Wine’s Taste profile
Pecorino wine has an exceptional aroma and flavor combined with a good structure. It expresses all its facets, structure and freshness of the base grape, making it versatile. Its versatility allows for a wide range of combinations with aperitifs, appetizers, main courses, cheeses and desserts lending it to be a great companion for just about any dish you’re serving up at your next dinner party.
On the nose, Pecorino is moderately complex with notes of acacia, lime, apricot, banana and a persuasive mineral background with herbaceous nuances in every glass.
When you join us on tour in Italy, try to purchase an older vintage Pecorino wine ages very well and can gain in structure and taste with time. Because of these properties, Pecorino wine is often called “a red dressed in white”. Many of its characteristics resemble red wine. In fact, its alcohol content can reach (and exceed!) 14%, something which is quite rare for a white wine.
Perfect pairings for Pecorino
A multifaceted wine like Pecorino not only pairs well with local Italian dishes but also compliments international ones, making it the perfect companion for your next meal.
Here are a few dishes to enjoy with Pecorino:
–Spaghetti alla Carbonara was apparently born at the end of WWII in Italy when guanciale (a kind of pancetta) was added to the roman dish of “cacio and pepe” to give it a bit of protein for the American soldiers fighting in the war.
–Risotto alla Milanese: The quintessential dish found in Milan goes well with Pecorino’s acidity and persistence. As a matter of fact, you can also pour a splash of Pecorino in while toasting your rice to give it an extra flavor boost
–Fried Calamari or any other fried fish dish. In Italy these will often be served as a small appetizer with a cool crisp glass of pecorino when soaking up the Italian sun along the seaside in summer. Not in Italy? Try Tempura.
Pro-tip: With this pairing serve the Pecorino cold right out of the fridge.
–Pad Thai, the acidity of the lime and the slightly bitter tamarind are in perfect harmony with Pecorino’s taste profile and will not disappoint.
–Spring rolls, probably one of the easiest things to get a hold of, although it falls into the fried food category that goes well with pecorino.oth the vegetable and the crunchy outside are a perfect match for an older vintage, so buy wisely (or choose a bottle of Pecorino wine you’ve been aging from your last trip to Italy). This pairing makes for a good excuse to crack a bottle open that has been sitting in your cellar for years.