Obscure Wine Grapes: Forgiarin

According to the "Italian Flavor" website, Forgiarin is one of four native grapevines that have survived in the Northern Italian wine region of Friuli, thanks to the efforts of Emilio Bulfon. (Piculit Neri is one of the others.) I picked this one up along with several other Emilio Bulfon rare varietals for $6.99 a bottle at Phoenicia.

When I first tasted this dark purple wine, I found it intense, and unpleasantly sour. The acidity was a little more bearable with pasta and steak, but still out of balance. I poured the wine through an aerating gadget called a "Vinturi." There was a noticeable improvement, but I was still planning on putting the rest of the bottle in the cooking wine collection. Then, an hour later, I sampled what was left in the wine glass. I was astonished to discover a delightful red wine. It was so good, I poured another glass and had some with cheese for dessert.

In these days of New World-style, fruit-forward red wine, we expect every bottle to taste perfect the second the cork is pulled. We have completely lost the custom of allowing wine to breathe for an hour or more. But in the case of this ancient grape, that's what it takes for the alcohol, acidity and tannin to balance out. And it's worth the wait.

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