Discover Pecorino, the Virtuous Italian White
Yes, Pecorino is a fantastic salty cheese that you want to pile on your pasta, but it’s also the name of a gorgeous lesser-known white wine from Italy. It’s only grown in the Marche, Abruzzo, Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio regions and is believed to be an extremely old grape variety that started as just a wild grapevine. By the mid-20th century, Pecorino was thought to be almost extinct until a researcher rediscovered in around the 1980s after he started investigating a rumor of a forgotten grape in an old vineyard.
The wine actually has no tie to the cheese that shares its name, especially because “pecora” means “sheep” in Italian, and the name of the beverage refers to the sweet grape the shepherds would snack on while they tended to their animals.
Pecorino has only recently been revived as a relevant wine in the last 15 years or so by select producers. Although the nation of Italy speaks very underwhelmingly about this grape, it is truly a delight. It grows well in mountainous environments that lead it to develop strong minerality that complement the high sugar levels and generous acidity.
This wine is accommodating to many palates and provides a great pairing to kinds of seafood and sharp cheeses (like its name twin), although it has different identities in each of its DOCG regions within Italy. For example, in Offida, it is commonly used as a part of a blend, while in the Marche, it’s made as a sparkling spumante or even a dessert wine.
Pecorino can be hard to find in America as it’s been slowly making its way back into the forefront of the industry. If you are really dedicated, it’s definitely worth the treasure hunt.