A Sicilian white and red to fire up the grilling season

I did a Google search a few days ago to find a wine or two that would go well with grilled meat for a July 4th. barbeque. I was looking for something other than the standard Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. So I started typing “wines with grilled meat” in the search field. I wound up typing “grillo” instead of “grill” and hit the enter key while going for the delete button. Lo and behold suggestions for grillo (with a capital G) actually came up (along with the suggested alternate search for “grills”), and it turned out to be a wine grape. It seemed like fate that I should get this wine for the barbeque. I mean it is named Grillo after all. So I did some research while looking for some Grillo wines .

Grillo is the name of a white wine varietal from Sicily. It’s a hardy grape that can thrive in a hot and dry environment. It needs to be resilient to survive the sun-drenched but water-deprived Sicilian summer.

Grillo is commonly used in combination with other grapes to make the fortified wine known as Marsala. Liquor is added when making fortified wines. These wines have a higher average alcohol content than their unfortified counterparts. Marsala wine is often used to make a brown sauce of the same name that is popular in Italian cooking – think chicken or veal marsala. Marsala wines tend to be rich, give off herbaceous and floral aromas, and have sweet notes of preserved or candied fruit, honey, and licorice.

Grillo grapes are also used to make an unfortified white wine that has a different flavor profile than Marsala. It has a pretty straightforward name – Grillo. Grillo typically has a refreshing acidity. It also tends to give off pleasant aromas of white flowers and citrus. You’ll usually find notes of lemon and apple, as well as grass, minerals, and a touch of salinity, on the palate.

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I bought two bottles of Corvo Grillo Sicilia DOC 2020. I figured it would be a good idea to try a bottle before bringing one to the barbeque. I chilled it before popping it open. The delicate floral and lemon zest aromas, and fresh notes of ripe citrus, green apple, and flint, as well as the lively acidity of the wine, were perfect for the season. It would be ideal for the marinated shrimp, sun-dried tomato and basil chicken, and fusilli with pesto I would be bringing with me.

I still needed a wine for the red meats that would be on the menu. I chose two bottles of Nero d’ Avola from Sicily for the occasion.

If you like Sicilian reds, odds are you’ve had a Nero d’ Avola. It’s a red wine grape that also likes hot and dry conditions and it doesn’t need a lot of water. These are great qualities to have if you’re going to be growing up in the heat of the Sicilian summer. Nero d’ Avola grapes are indigenous to Sicily and Nero d ‘ Avola wines are one of the most important in the region.
Nero d’ Avola is also used to make a fortified wine. It’s known as Marsala Rubino. Nero d’ Avola wines typically have soft acidity, aromas of berries and dark fruit, and notes of juicy blackberries, cherries, and spice.

I had picked up two bottles of Corvo Nero d’ Avola, Sicilia DOC, 2018 alongside my bottles of Corvo Grillo, Sicilia DOC, 2020 so I gave the
Nero d’ Avola a try, like I had with the Grillo.

The Corvo Nero d’ Avola, Sicilia DOC, 2018 had mild acidity, fresh raspberry, cherry, and floral aromas, and ripe plum, and delicate pepper notes.
I was glad I had chosen to stick with this producer for both my white and red picks and at just under $10.00 a bottle it definitely didn’t break the bank.

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