Abruzzo’s red Montepulciano wine has become increasingly popular among consumers in recent years, thanks to its rich flavor, round body, and affordable price point. But it’s the region’s rosatos that pique the interest of Tiffany Tobey, a Dallas sommelier who was most recently the wine director of the Tower Club of Dallas. Not only does Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo deliver on taste and quality, she says, but “it is such an overlooked style of rosé that it is an easily intriguing sale.”
The Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC covers the same area as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, and like its red counterpart, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo must be made with at least 85 percent Montepulciano grapes (though many are made entirely with Montepulciano). Though winemakers employ a short maceration for Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo wines—typically less than a day—the highly pigmented Montepulciano skins imbue the rosé wines with a lot of color during that short period of time, giving the wines their cherry-like color—hence the name Cerasuolo, which means cherry.
“These wines have been a bit obscure in the United States,” says Tobey, “but have begun to flourish over the past few years with the heightened quality and exposure.” Though the color is typically deeper than the pale-pink shade that most U.S. consumers gravitate toward, Tobey uses Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo’s distinctive hue to start a conversation. “It is so vibrantly pigmented that people are instantly intrigued,” she says.
Selling Points for Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo
- Many consumers are already familiar with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, offering an introduction to this lighter style from the same grape and region.
- Tobey points to “the friendly price points coming out of this region,” making it “a hugely profitable placement on any wine list or by-the-glass program.”
- This style of wine is appealing to the majority of people who walk in the door, says Tobey. “I often get red wine-only drinkers that are anti ‘pink wine,’ and I thoroughly enjoy changing their minds,” she says, noting that most Cerasuolo d’Abruzzos can be served chilled or warm, depending on the guest’s preference.
3 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Wines to Watch
- Masciarelli ‘Villa Gemma’ Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo: One of Tobey’s favorites from the region, the Villa Gemma is “so vibrant and full of fruit and acidity—one that you can chill and drink by the pool or bring to the dinner table.”
- Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo: Tiberio’s wines have become industry darlings over the past decade, made by winemaker Cristiana Tiberio with her brother Antonio, who is the agronomist. The Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is made from a single vineyard and macerated for only 20 minutes before pressing, so “the wine is full of tart, fresh fruit and high acidity,” says Tobey.
- Emidio Pepe Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo: Made by one of Italy’s most legendary winemakers, the Emidio Pepe Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is not officially imported into the U.S., but can be found through the gray market. “These wines will always have a place in my personal cellar and on my wine lists,” says Tobey, who notes that it’s bursting with pomegranate and cherry.
Courtney Schiessl Magrini is the editor-in-chief for SevenFifty Daily and the Beverage Media Group publications. Based in Brooklyn, she has held sommelier positions at some of New York’s top restaurants, including Marta, Dirty French, and Terroir, and her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, GuildSomm, Forbes.com, VinePair, EatingWell Magazine, and more. She holds the WSET Diploma in Wines. Follow her on Instagram at @takeittocourt.