Cheese for Schioppettino

by Joe Colosi

This week we tasted a delicious bottle of Schioppettino, a wine making a comeback after nearly being destroyed by a debilitating insect epidemic in Europe over a hundred years ago. The grape produces a medium-bodied dry table wine. We attempted as many pairings as were needed to find the right combination of delicious flavors.

Vignai da Duline 06 Schioppettino: Vignai da Duline is located in between Venice and Trieste and has grown Schioppettino (or ribolla nera) since the 1970s. This young wine had a fragrant nose, combining chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry aromas–almost euphoric. The wine tasted like cherries, though the texture was quite dry and contrasted the fruit flavors.

Maistus Foggiano, a Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese, worked with the wine only depending on the size of the portion. In small amounts, the cheese infused sheepy flavors on the finish. However, when we ate a liberal wedge of cheese, it overpowered the lighter taste of the Schioppettino. We thought Farmhouse Manchego, a softer Spanish sheep milk cheese, would strike the right chord with our picky wine. But the flavors were too undistinguished against the wine and brought out an abundance of alcohol flavors. The bold, biting flavor of Auricchio Stravecchio provolone created a symphony of robust flavors, though most of them were too strong for the typical palate.

The best cheese we found to pair with Schioppettino may also be the best cheese in the world. Parmigiano Reggiano is most commonly known as a grating cheese, though the delights of its full flavor are best appreciated by itself or with wine. The Schioppettino brought out a beefy, meaty flavor in the cheese, like a juicy roast. After our mouths were saturated with a resounding, all-encompassing flavor, the wine took on a refreshing and light air.

The Verdict: Parmigiano Reggiano, Maistus Foggiano

The Schioppettino we tried tasted unique and enjoyable, but when paired with the right cheese the wine sculpted and molded itself to match its counterpart. Despite the subtleties each wine brings to the table, we are always able to find a good match in the over 200 cheeses at the Di Bruno Brother’s 9th St location. Don’t hesitate to ask your favorite cheesemonger, at either center city or on the Italian market, to help find you the right cheese for any bottle of wine. And if you would like an in depth examination of the wine’s cheese pairing capabilities, pour a glass and ask for Joe.