Brachetto is a black grape from Italy used entirely for producing sweet, sparkling wine from Acqui Terme in the southern part of the Piedmont region in Italy.
Brachetto is a highly aromatic grape with aromas of raspberries, wild strawberries and rose petals. It typically will produce a low alcoholic wine, about 5% to 7% vol.
The DOCG to look for is called Brachetto d’Acqui, pronunced “Braˈketto ˈdakkwi” (DOC in 1969, DOCG in 1996). The DOCG area is situated south-west of Asti, with the municipalities Acqui Terme and Strevi constituting its heartland. It is also from here you will find the best wines.
There are two versions allowed, the semi-sparkling Frizzante (minimum 5% vol) and the sparkling Spumante (minimum 6% vol). Both have to be made from ninety-seven percent Brachetto grapes, with restrictions of high yields that are accepted.
The difference between semi-sparkling and sparkling is that the latter is submitted to a second fermentation in the bottle or in a pressurised tank.
This also means that the pressure in the bottle will be the double; minimum one atmosphere for Frizzante and minimum three atmospheres for Spumante.
If you don’t want to refresh yourself with a well-chilled Brachetto d’Acqui on its own, typical pairings are fresh berries, tarts, and cake, most often made from fruit.
Piedmont is also famous for its hazelnuts, once only available for kings, queens and their likes.
So, have a royal tasting by pairing it with some Gianduja, a mix of sweet chocolate and hazelnut paste. Brachetto d’Acqui is best enjoyed when served well chilled, around 7-10°C/45-50°F.
Where is it grown?
With its 1.460 ha/3,608 ac, Brachetto takes a modest fifty-ninth place when it comes to amount of planted area in Italy. Reports of plantings in other countries have not been found.
The main plantings are in various sub zones in Piedmont; Asti has 618 ha/1.527 ac, and Alessandria has 609 ha/1,505 ac. Additional small plantings can be found in neighbouring Cuneo.
Plantings can also be found in the very south, close to Bari and Brindisi in Apulia, with additional very small plantings in some more regions.
Brachetto is thought to have originated in the area where it is mostly planted, e.g. in the southern part of the Piedmont region.
It is also said to have been a popular beverage among high society members in the Roman Empire, known then as Vinum Acquense (wine of the Acqui).