Italy’s Salento wine-growing region in Puglia should be on your radar if you’re looking for a good, affordable red to liven up your pasta or pizza dinner. Located in the heel of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula, Salento is home to many affordable and lush reds made from such native grapes as primitivo and negroamaro, known for their dark berry fruit flavors. The following two wines are fine examples of medium-bodied, versatile reds that would go well with a variety of dishes:
Cantina Sociale Cooperativa 2010 Copertino Riserva, ItalyBought • Parker’s Table, 7118 Oakland Avenue, in May for $14.99
Description • This aromatic and delicious red, which received 92 points from Vinous, comes from Copertino, a commune in the heart of Salento. The wine is made from 95% negroamaro grapes with just a touch malvasia nera and was aged for at least two years before release. The result is an elegant, complex red that’s earthy and spicy with dark fruit flavors. A flavorful wine with a silky texture, it would go well with osso buco, grilled beef and mushroom dishes.
Varvaglione Vigne & Vini 2016 12 e Mezzo Primitivo del Salento, Italy Bought • Parker’s Table, 7118 Oakland Avenue, in May for $12.99
Description • Primitivo and California’s zinfandel are both clones of the same Croatian grape variety. Because of that, they have certain similarities in taste, including distinctive berry flavors. While this primitivo is filled with ripe berry fruit, it’s far more restrained, softer and lower in alcohol than many of the aggressive zinfandels produced in California. A well-balanced, easy-to-drink wine with good acidity and mild tannins, it’s a natural for foods made with tomato sauce.