A Barbera d’Asti that fired on all cylinders and an all-American pairing…

It’s become a cliché for American sommeliers and wine pundits to talk about Barbera’s role as a “pizza wine” in our country.

But predictably does have its merits and a Sunday pairing of the Maraja 2015 Barbera d’Asti Masche with some of our favorite pies was by no means a cliché négatif (photography buffs will appreciate the paronomasia).

Italians generally pair beer and/or sparkling soft drinks with their pizza. And if they reach for wine instead, it’s usually something bubbly. The fattiness and acidity of the mozzarella, the wisdom goes, needs something effervescent to aid in digestion (the metabolic challenge of pizza is one of the reasons that Italians mostly avoid eating pizza at lunchtime but that’s another story).

Only in America, where the great misunderstanding otherwise known as the Atlantic Ocean gives rise to our gastronomic exceptionalism, do gourmets and enohipsters view still red wine as a excellent match for pizza. How many times have you heard the lesser informed members of our society point to Chianti as a “pizza wine”? Chianti! (But that’s another story as well.)

On Sunday, our all-American family found itself with another red-white-and-blue couple who’ve recently expanded their brood with a beautiful, precious baby girl. And the Maraja was the bottle we reached for when we ordered pizzas creative and traditional.

Man, this wine had it all: buoyant red and berry fruit, minerality and a hint dusty earth (hallmarks of Astigiano-raised Barbera), the classic electric acidity that the variety is known for, and higher-than-expected-alcohol that was kept wonderfully in check by the sum of its parts. It just fired on all cylinders like a finely-tuned 1968 hardtop Mustang Fastback. What a gorgeous lip-smacking wine!

One of the things that has fascinated me the most over the course of my bilingual career is how wines and foods are often “applied” by Anglophones in ways that their Italophone counterparts didn’t imagine and/or intend.

Sometimes we get it right, sometimes wrong. But on Sunday, we, Americans, nailed it.

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