Marenco Pineto Brachetto d'Acqui and a Simple Strawberry Treat (#ItalianFWT)

Delightful! Brachetto d’Acqui is simply delightful.

The first time I tried one was at a wine bar in LA many years ago, way before I got into studying or working in wine. It was part of a flight and it overcame me with its delightfulness. Lightly fizzy, sweet but not cloying, refreshing, and bursting with strawberry flavors. Charming. I asked about it and went out to buy myself a bottle a few days later.

I don’t drink it often enough, but I think we can all use a little delightfulness right about now. I opened a bottle the other night with dessert. The impetus for ordering this particular bottle was this month’s edition of #ItalianFWT, but I’m so glad I did. It put a much-needed smile on my face.

I’m going to do my best to keep this post short and sweet – brevity is not typically one of my gifts – but really I think you should all do yourselves a favor and order yourself a bottle to put a smile on your face.

A Little Bit About Brachetto

Brachetto is a red grape from the Piedmont region of Italy, and it’s typically made in lightly fizzy style, although dry and passito versions also exist. Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG is the most famous appellation for this grape, although it is also made elsewhere in the region. Wines bearing the name of Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG must be made of 100% Brachetto.

The wines are light-bodied and very aromatic with pretty flavors and aromas of strawberries and roses. The wines are also low in alcohol, usually under 5-6%, making it a pretty perfect wine to enjoy when you just want another glass of something after dinner to go with a light dessert, as well as for afternoon sipping when you don’t want to be zonked out for the rest of you day.

Brachetto wines (at least the fizzy ones) have this beautiful ruby, rose color with the intensity of a deep rosé, that’s achieved by leaving the grapes in contact with the skins for a few days. The fizzy versions are usually made through the Charmat method, which helps to highlight the pretty aromatic qualities of the grape.

You can see the pretty color in this shot. I took this pic, but Greg took all the other pairing pics.

This is a grape that has a sense of fun and romance, and its history and legends reflect this. The sense of fun starts with the town that gave the appellation its name, Acqui Terme, is a spa town with hot sulfur springs that have been famous since Roman times.

La Bollente spring.
Image borrowed from Wikipedia. Photo by Ian Spackman - Own work, CC BY 2.5, Link

I also wasn’t all that surprised to discover that it’s often associated with love and is often featured around Valentine’s Day. That ruby color and the perfume kind of scream ❤️-Day wine! I think it would be wonderful with chocolate-covered strawberries.

It was even thought to have potent aphrodisiac powers. Legend has it that both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony courted Cleopatra with vinum acquense (wine from Acqui), and the queen, in turn, used the wine to rekindle the passions of her lovers. Brachetto is the likely descendant of that wine.

"Gianduja e Giandujotto", Walther Jervolino, oil on canvas, 60x65 cm.jpg 
Borrowed from Wikipedia.  By Walther Jervolino - Own work, Apocalittico, 2010-06-23 15:34:51, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link . Gianduja also lent his name to the region's famous chocolate and hazelnut spread – Nutella would be best known brand, and a cake with the same flavor combo. Think I'm going to have try the combo of this and Brachetto.

Brachetto’s fun personality was also reflected in Italy’s commedia dell’arte. Ian d’Agata elaborates on this in Native Wine Grapes of Italy (pg 213):

According to popular tradition, brachetto was the preferred beverage of one of the most famous characters of the Italian commedia dell’arte, Gianduja da Gioan d’laduja, or Giovanni of the Jug. The figure drew inspiration for his bubbly high spirits from brachetto: unsurprisingly, the character had the reputation of being a heavy drinker and was just as bubbly as the wine. Having his priorities straight, Giovanni viewed brachetto the ideal wine with which to fill the jug he always carried. In that respect at least, I have a lot in common with Gianduja: there can never be too much good brachetto in my glass (or jug, or thermos, or . . . ). I’m not alone: in Piedmontese dialect, brachetto is known as brachet per cantè, brachetto to sing with, or a wine so good it makes you sing out of happiness. A glass of the good stuff, and I guarantee you’ll be singing too.

I’m in agreement!

The Wine and Pairing

With shelter in place orders limiting access to and selection from the wonderful wine stores we have near us, I pretty quickly turned to and ordered the Marenco Pineto Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG 2018 for $12.99. This was a half bottle and I would’ve been very happy for it to be a full bottle. 

Marenco is a small family-run winery that spans several generations. Michele Marenco started with the dream of making wines from his vineyard in the heart of the Bagnario Valley. His son Giuseppe grew the business and expanded their vineyard holdings. Today, his three daughters Michela, Patrizia (who is also the winemaker), and Doretta run the company. Michela’s husband, Giovanni Costa, and their son, Andrea Costa, are also part of the team.

The company is very committed to working sustainably and are laid out on their website here. Among other things, they use practices geared at preventing soil erosion, they try to minimize energy outputs, and use environmentally safe methods of pest management in their vineyards.

Their Pineto Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG 2018 brought a smile to my face. I picked up notes of strawberries, flower petals, and grape candy on the nose. There were similar notes on the palate, where more red fruits notes of raspberries and candied cherries joined the party. Light hints of balsamic herbs and spice on the finish added a nice counterpoint. The wine’s sweetness was very balanced, expressing itself with a nice tangy quality. 

A light fruit dessert seemed like an ideal pairing for this wine. The rule of thumb for pairing desserts and wine is that you want the wine to be sweeter than the food. Sugar in food makes a wine seem less sweet, and wine that is too dry will seem sour or even bitter when sipper alongside something sweet.

Greg and I enjoyed this with a super simple, but always delicious dessert of strawberries in wine. I’ve been making this for a long time and shared the recipe a while back on Nibbling Gypsy, please find a recipe there as well as recommendations for how to use it a bunch of different ways. That said, this dessert really doesn’t require a recipe. Pour some inexpensive red wine (or remnants of bottles) into a pot, add a tablespoon or two of sugar (or another sweetener of your choice), and bring to a boil. Feel free to add spices or a little citrus juice or peel as well, both are lovely. Remove the pot from heat, then add the strawberries. Serve warm or cold. A bonus of this recipe is that it preserves the strawberries far past the point that they would last on their own.We topped our strawberries in wine with a little whipped cream and Girl Scout Lemon-Up’s cookie

Success! The sweetness of the dessert helped balance out the sweetness of the wine further so that the two matched each other nicely and the wine came across as tangy and refreshing. It was a seamless pairing that once again left me delighted.

More details on the wine here.

Quick aside, if you’re looking for things to distract you during this time and love Girl Scout cookies, check out of my Girl Scout Cookie Pairing Party Mash Up.



Additional references used for this post:
Consorzio Tutela Brachetto d'Acqui
The Oxford Companion to Wine via

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  1. The history of Brachetto is fun and fascinating at the same time... funny how things twist and turn over centuries. I hadn't heard about the "Valentines's Day wine" association until digging into Brachetto this month. I'm good with that and your strawberries!

    1. It sounds lovely with blue cheese as well. And yes, I thought the history on this one was very fun! Stay well!

  2. This seemed to be the bottle of choice for many of us this month. Glad that you enjoyed it. Stay safe.

    1. LOL. Yes, I think we all probably went to the same source given our lack of mobility. Stay well!

  3. I also opened a Marenco Brachetto d'Acqui and yes, it did put a smile on my face! Fun wine for a not-so-fun time. Nice sharing of legend and lore, too.

    1. 100% agreed. You and I seemed pretty in sync on wine, pairing, and reaction on this one as well. Stay safe!

  4. I tried chocolate and candied nuts with mine, and all I can say is good call on the fruit! I thought fruit would be a much better choice.

    1. That's too bad, I thought perhaps candied nuts would've been a good pair.

  5. Pink! The Brachetto and that refreshing strawberry dessert you made! Excellent - I'm ready to pour another glass right now. Cheers!


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