The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Nero d’Avola

Posted on | July 12, 2010 | Written by Tina Benitez | No Comments

Of partial Sicilian decent, I’ve always been fascinated with the southernmost part of Italy’s boot. My grandfather, Don Pasquale, was born in America, but his father and family, the Marinos (yes, like the famous Italian ices), have their roots in Sicily. My grandfather’s extended family came to America, and while some moved down south, the rest remained in New York City—in the Bronx to be exact. My grandfather served in World War II, met my grandmother in England, and five children later, the rest is history.

Soon, I’ll be journeying to Sicilia and to the rest of Italy. In the meantime, I’m exploring Sicilia right here at home via the region’s most important red grape, and varietal wine: Nero d’Avola. Whenever I scan a wine list or find myself in an interesting wine shop, I look for Nero. Nero is fast becoming a wine that I know I’ll enjoy. Often compared to Shiraz, it’s dark and full of plums, peppers and silky tannins. Even more wonderful, it’s always modestly priced and it’s an easy fit with most dishes. Moreover, this varietal holds a special connection for me. I recently grabbed two glasses of Nero at nearby NYC wine bar, Bar Veloce, and tried one of IWM’s own Nero-Merlot blends, Buceci. It was delicious, and drinking it, I dreamed of Sicilia, the lands as I imagine them, and my ancestors.

My grandfather passed away in 1998, but his love of wine lingers. I feel fortunate that he took the time to infuse me with his love of wine; it’s something I’ve held onto until this day. My grandfather and I were close, so I feel lucky that there’s still some family in Sicilia, whom I never really got to know because I grew up in New York. One day soon I’ll search for my Marinos, sit down with them over some granitas, or other Sicilian dishes, and some glasses of smooth Nero d’Avola. We can drink, eat, and catch up. It’s been awhile.

I’m going to go on exploring more wines, but I’ll always make sure I throw Nero d’Avola in the mix, for grandpa. It reminds me of him and of my roots.


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