The Forgotten Grape Love Child of Strawberry Shortcake & Hawaiian Punch’s Punchy
Okay, yeah, you’re right. Maybe not be the best visual image to put into your head (the children! Think of the poor children!). But let’s face it, there are far worse cartoon characters we could have described getting it on (Ursula from The Little Mermaid and Megatron come to mind. How about Skeletor and Mother Brain from Captain N, The Game Master? Disturbed yet?). But none of those couplings could ever produce an offspring quite like this week’s Forgotten Grape, Brachetto D’Acqui. Only Strawberry Shortcake and Punchy. Brachetto is absolutely their love child in color, scent, flavor, even bubbly demeanor. And once you open up a bottle of this fun, fizzy, remarkable Italian red for yourself (yes I said fizzy red), you’ll understand the analogy. And you’ll hate us even more for putting into your head the image of those two innocent, loveable characters going at it with raw, naked abandon every time you take a sip of this fantastic Forgotten Grape.
Brachetto is a wine tailor-made for love and romance, since it was born out of the forbidden love that Strawberry Shortcake and Punchy once shared in the Alpine foothills of northwestern Italy (and by Alpine we mean “of or relating to the Alps,” not “of or relating to any lofty mountain anywhere”), where the Brachetto grape was birthed and raised and is still lovingly cultivated to this day. A love that fizzes gently when opened and bubbles coyly but proudly when poured out into the world. A love that glows bright red like the glistening ruby one might give to a favored lover, or the color of one’s face when one chances upon that mysterious stranger one shared a single night of nameless intimacy and rugged, animalistic passion with so many years before. The same stranger whose name you can’t quite recall but whose hands upon the small of your back and lips upon your neck you would recognize in a heartbeat.
Brachetto is a love that remains slightly sweet and effervescent even as traces of fruity tartness interlope into the mix. A love that goes just as well with a gorgeous sunset as it does with something sweet at the end of a meal as it does with the rich, decadent, fulfilling breakfast you might share with that special someone who woke up beside you. It is a love that knows only the bounds of the DOCG that regulates its production by law. A love that has been transformed into wine. A wine culled from a Forgotten Grape known simply and elegantly as Brachetto D’Acqui. A wine that truly is the love child
of Strawberry Shortcake and Punchy the Hawaiian Punch guy. Aloha everyone, and have a berry, berry good time exploring all the seductive, sensual pleasures of this berry, berry sexy Forgotten Grape, Brachetto d’Acqui
How do I pronounce Brachetto d'Acqui
Brachetto d'Acqui Looks Like:
Do you remember Ring Pops? Specifically Cherry Ring Pops, with their fire-engine/Ferrari red translucence offset by that plastic disk of green or blue or purple that you were supposed to strap onto your finger and lick? Man, they were tasty. Messy, but tasty. Personally I always preferred the grape or blue raspberry ones...but I digress. That Ring Pop red color is what’s going to be staring back at you from inside a glass of Brachetto D’Acqui. That and a whole lot of tiny bubbles. Brachetto is a slightly sparkling red wine, so you’re going to get the same pearl necklace ring of effervescence around the edge of your glass that you’d get with a Champagne or other sparkling wine. Now the color of the wine itself can dip into a slightly darker garnet red or even a burnt orange (hook ‘em Horns!) depending on the producer and the age, but odds are, if you’re drinking Brachetto, it’s going to be the same color as your trampy party-girl friend from college’s favorite lipstick. Fortunately, Brachettos are typically lower in alcohol than most wines (usually only about 5-7% ABV), so you won’t have to worry about holding your friend’s hair back if she drinks too much of the stuff.
Brachetto d'Acqui Smells Like:
You’ll get the smells you’d expect from a wine that we just compared to the love child of Strawberry Shortcake and Punchy – namely strawberries and lots of red, ripe fruit – but you’ll also get a few scents you might not be expecting. Like rose petals. Yes, most Brachettos gives off a warm, floral scent of freshly plucked rose petals. It’s a standard wine aroma. And orange blossoms. Yep, continuing with the floral theme, you might also catch the scent of orange blossoms in bloom as well. Indian spices. Really? Uh-huh. Particularly the aromas of coriander and cardamom, which sometimes rise to the top when you’re sniffing a Brachetto, lovely and warm smells that will tickle your nose. The beauty of this wine is that with its effervescence, lighter alcohol,and myriad fruit flavors (more on that in a moment), there’s always a variety of different bouquets you can get from this wine. But the floral smells and the red and orange fruit smells should definitely hit you from first sniff.
Brachetto d'Acqui Tastes Like:
Well, if you’re expecting a wine that’s supposed to taste like strawberries and fruit punch (and you should be, or else that entire analogy we made above is for naught), then you won’t be disappointed. But take note: because every Brachetto vine and producer is a little bit different, you might end up with some other flavors in there as well, particularly stronger variations of the fruits you might find in fruit punch. We tasted one Brachetto that was very, very orange. Another one had quite a bit of cranberry flavor to it, which gave it a slight but refreshing tartness. A third was like popping a cherry Sweetart in your mouth. We’re not joking, and therein lies the beauty of Brachetto. Much like the aromas, you’re going to get quite a few different flavors when you enjoy a glass, but the big twin hammers of strawberry and fruit punch should always be there. Just note we said “should”. As always, your results may vary.
brachetto is indigenous to Italy and not grown anywhere else (that we know of). Within Italy, while the grape can be grown anywhere within the country, 90% of all Brachetto is produced in Piedmonte, specifically in and around the town of Acqui Terme, hence the name Brachetto d'Acqui, which literally means "Brachetto of Acqui".
Cindy’s “Did Juneau?”:
For a very long time, the Brachetto grape was thought to be related to the Braquet grape, grown almost exclusively in France near the Italian border in the hills above the town of Nice. Braquet is one of the primary grapes used in the the wines of the relatively unknown French AOC of Bellet (unknown because almost all Bellet wines are sold and drunk in and around the Nice/Cannes section of the French Riviera). However, recent analyses of both the Brachetto and Braquet grapes have determined that they are not related and are indeed entirely separate grapes.
Forget the Champagne brunch – Champagne is traditionally an aperitif anyway – a light, fizzy red/rosé like Brachetto D’Acqui makes for an excellent breakfast wine. The best breakfast dishes to pair with a Brachetto are either cheese blintzes or French toast. They are rich and filling and sweet but with no real sharp flavors that will dampen the fruit and fizz of the wine. And just forget the syrup or any other topping. With a Brachetto, it’s like you’ve already got strawberries, cherries, and lots of fresh fruit on top.
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