I always look for excuses to order light-bodied red wines, which can span a far wider variety of dishes than big reds (from, say, veal shoulder to tuna tartare), and they’re ideal with chicken. But they’re tricky. Sometimes they seem too thin, or astringent, or plain wimpy.
On a recent trip to Piedmont, the Italian region known for its weighty reds, I was reminded of how much I like Grignolino, the Beaujolais of Italy. It’s fresh and lively, with bright acidity and enough tannin to give it substance (the name is from a dialect word for pips—seeds—which contain tannin), and it has a light body that suits it to white meat. Grignolino was long a wine of the aristocracy, and is said to be a favorite of the Piedmont-based Agnelli family, the modern-day aristocracy of Italy. But very few Grignolino vines survived the late-nineteenth-century phylloxera epidemic, and today just 1 percent of Piedmont vineyards are planted with them. Luckily, the handful of producers who do make Grignolino take special care with it, and one of the most highly regarded, Accornero, sells its Bricco del Bosco Grignolino at Smith & Vine, in Brooklyn, New York (718-243-2864, www.smithandvine.com). Find a bottle, try it with an heirloom bird, and you’ll be supporting several endangered species. —