It is almost time for college basketball bracket watching. Get out your dictionary of unknown colleges and get ready to choose your teams.
We like to pause and enjoy a glass of wine as we blindly pick our Final Four. To be fair, we always like to pause and enjoy a glass of wine. But tournament season abounds with watch parties and chicken wings.
Wine geeks like to find fun wines to distract us from “Where’s that college from?” vs. “I’ve never heard of them” playing in the other room as we scarf wings and dig through the Marmaduke-sammie-stacked Nacho platter.
Wines from Italy’s Marche region (pronounced like Mar-Kay) are perfect party picks. This month we explore light and inexpensive crowd-pleasers, ideal for “Marche Madness.”
Marotti Campi Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi Classico Albiano ($12)
Marche has produced wine since before Julius Caesar’s reign. The unique microclimate protects the vines and allows grapes to ripen while retaining a mouthwatering acidity. Still independent and family-owned, Marotti Campi continues a 150-year family tradition. Verdicchio is a dry and refreshing native Italian white grape.
Swirl the glass and notice green ripples on the edges of this straw-colored white wine. Bright violet aromas lead a fruity nose. The 2020 is refreshing, floral, and flavorful with crunchy green apple notes rounded by hints of jasmine. The tart first sip offers a hint of spice.
As it fills the mouth, layers of fruit emerge and lead to a slightly peach-infused savory finish with crisp and cleansing minerality. It complements various popular party dips, chicken skewers, and cheese.
Marotti Campi Lacrima Di Morro d’Alba Rubico ($15)
Lacrima, Italian for teardrop, is a perfect drinking metaphor for the shattered hopes and dreams played out during the tournament and it goes great with chicken wings. Lacrima is an indigenous Italian red grape grown almost exclusively in Marche.
Marotti Campi’s Lacrima is dark purple with an earthy nose of cranberry and flowers. Dark fruit flavors dominate the initial taste. Medium-bodied and velvety smooth, it packs a fruity mid-palate with interesting spice and plum. Hints of balsamic frame an acid-driven finish with almost no tannic feel. It goes great with party platter foods. Pair with a plate of spicy wings, a couple of BBQ ribs and a slice of pie. It is even light and savory enough to complement the Babagasomething the new neighbor will bring to the party.
March Madness brings us together. We brush up on our basketball jargon, get involved in office betting pools, and have conversations with strangers about sports. It is like a monthlong version of a Buckeye football Saturday. It gives everyone something to talk about.
Many of us miss these simple signs of community and friendship that help get us through the year. As you get ready to scribble unfamiliar team names on your bracket, remember our motto, But First Wine.
Grab a glass of Lacrima and a bowl of wings, and order a pizza. It is March and it is madness.
Jeff Lohr is the resident Wine Geek at House Wine in Worthington.