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  • Writer's pictureMolly Jean

Molly's Meal Match: Aglianico

Aglianico is a well-known, high quality varietal that reigns in Southern Italy. It's often referred to as the Borolo/Barbaresco of the South (Nebbiolo Grape), but it's much less expensive. It is a bold wine with plump fruit flavors, full body, and high tannin. Said to be one of the oldest grape varieties in Southern Italy, this grape was brought to the country from Greece during the Roman Age.

The uniqueness of this grape extends beyond its lineage. The region's proximity to some of Italy's infamous volcanoes, have created a terroir permeated with ashen soils. Impacting the resulting wine's flavors and aromas, in a unique and identifiable way.

Its late ripening characteristics, allow it to maintain its high acidity needed to poise the wine against the grape's high tannin. To maintain the balance of the wine and smooth the tannin, it's primarily aged in oak barrels. For the best experience with this varietal, look for bottles with some age and be prepared to do some extended decanting (2+ hours) prior to sipping.

Because of the high tannin and acidity, this wine can withstand fatty and heavily flavored foods. It pairs deliciously with earthy and gamey dishes; think venison, rabbit, and mushrooms. The high acidity allows the wine to hold its own with prime rib, beans, and Texas style BBQ, without getting lost behind the strong flavors.


Flavors + Aromas

Primary (grape and alcoholic fermentation):

Floral: violet, rose

Red Fruit: cherry, strawberry, raspberry

Black Fruit: black plum,

Herbaceous: dried herbs

Herbal: eucalyptus,

Spice: licorice, white pepper

Fruit Ripeness: ripe fruit, dried fruit, cooked fruit

Other: balsamic, menthol, tar

Secondary (post-fermentation winemaking):

Oak: vanilla, chocolate, bitter chocolate, coffee, smoke

Tertiary (maturation/aging):

Gamey meat, mushroom, earth, spiced plum

*Cellar for 5 - 25 Years

Recommended Wine Picks

Aglianico del Vulture DOC/DOCG - firm tannin, with chocolate and cherry notes, volcanic soils of Basilicata

Taurasi DOCG - ashy, minerally, volcanic soils of Campania - close to Mount Vesuvius

*You can also find Aglianico from Argentina, Australia and the U.S. the first Aglianico I tasted was from Washington (see below for tasting notes).


Elk Sloppy Mo's

Tenta delPortale Aglianico Del Vulture

The spice and savory flavors of this Sloppy Mo, is just what this varietal needs. It's bold with ashy textured tannin, and aromas of licorice, leather and red plum. The wine decanted for 2+ hours and was still a powerhouse on the palate. Fortunately, the cheese and acidic tomato based sauce, alleviated dissonant feeling of the tannins. This match is an example of how food can elevate wine. The wine was a delicious match with the Sloppy Mo, but left your taste buds wanting when sipped on its own.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

brioche buns

avocado oil

salt & pepper to taste

Refrigerated Goods:

2 lb ground elk

pepper jack cheese slices



1/2 onion (diced)

1/2 red bell pepper (diced)

1/2 green bell pepper (diced)

3-4 cloves of garlic (minced)

red onion (sliced for garnish)

For the Sauce

8oz can of tomato sauce

6 oz can of tomato paste

1/2 cup of water

4 tbsp of apple cider vinegar

4 pitted dates

2 tbsp of soy sauce

2 tsp yellow mustard

2 tsp of chili powder

1 tsp of cummin

salt & pepper to taste


1. After soaking the dates in warm water for 10+ minutes, add all of the ingredients listed for the sauce into a blender. Blend until smooth.

2. In a large sauce pan, drizzle and warm olive oil on medium. Add in chopped peppers, garlic and onion, sauté for 3-5 minutes.

3. Add in the ground elk and cook until browned. Be sure not to overcook the meat.

4. Once the elk is browned, pour in the sauce. Ensure all of the meat is covered.

5. Build you Sloppy Mo and serve warm!

bottom bun > mayo > cheese slice > red onion slices > meat mixture > mayo > top bun


Bleu Cheese & Venison Stuffed Mushrooms

Boudreaux Cellars 2016 Aglianico

Prepare yourself for a flavor seizure! This Washington sourced Aglianico is unlike those from Italy. While it maintains the high acidity and the bold velvety tannins, the aromas will keep you guessing. The beautiful floral notes are followed by concentrated red and black fruit flavors - reminiscent of pie filling. Prune, cigar and leather notes round out the wine, creating an iconoclastic WA Wine.

This amazing wine is the perfect match for the earthy, gamey and umami flavors of the stuffed mushrooms. The floral and fruit aromas of the wine, are highlighted by the juxtaposition of the earthy cheese flavors.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

salt & pepper to taste

Refrigerated Goods:

.5 lb ground venison

Bleu cheese (or Cambozola)


1 lb baby bella mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1/2 red onion (diced)


1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. With a warm paper towel, wipe any excess dirt off of the mushrooms. Twist off the mushroom stems and with a spoon, gently scrape out the mushroom cap.

3. In a medium sauce pan, oiled with the avocado oil - brown the ground venison. Once browned, season with salt & pepper, and add in the garlic and finely diced onion. Sauté for 3 minutes.

4. Place the hollowed out mushrooms in a casserole dish, fill the caps with the venison.

5. Top with crumbles of bleu cheese. Use your judgement for cheese amount. Too much can overwhelm the flavors of the mushrooms.

6. Place in oven, uncovered and cook for 15-20 minutes.

7. Sip your delicious wine.

8. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and serve warm.

9. Optional: drizzle with a reduced balsamic for a touch of sweetness.


Wild Boar Pappardelle

Donnachiara Aglianico

Aglianico is a delicious and bold wine, well suited for robust dishes like this one. These wines are high in tannin, with earthy and dark fruit aromas. This varietal is most definitely one to decant. I decanted this wine for about 1 hour, before sipping. The fattiness in the meat, also aided in easing the harshness of the tannin. I loved how the sweet and acidic roasted tomatoes used in the sauce, complimented the mushroom flavors of the wine.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

Pappardelle noodles

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

6 oz can of tomato paste

avocado oil

salt & pepper to taste

Refrigerated Goods:

1 lb ground wild boar


10 Campari tomatoes

4 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 white onion (diced)


1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. On a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet roast the tomatoes for 30-40 minutes. Checking in periodically to ensure the skins are wilting - but not burning.

3. Meanwhile in a large sauce pan, oiled with the avocado oil - brown the wild boar. Once browned, season with salt & pepper, and add in the garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes.

4. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Follow the instructions on how to cook the Pappardelle noodles.

5. Once the tomatoes are finished roasting, place them in a blender along with the tomato paste, diced onion, and red pepper flakes. Blend until smooth and thick.

6. Add the sauce to the pan with the cooked wild boar and mix it together.

7. Top the noodles with the sauce and meat mixture and enjoy!


I hope you enjoyed learning about Aglianico and checking out these pairing suggestions. If you have feedback, comments, or questions please feel free to comment below, post to The Wine Tails Facebook Page, or message me on Instagram.

Thank you Wine Simple, Wine for Normal People, The Wine Bible, and Wine Folly for providing me with amazing research materials. Follow along with The Wine Tails Pinterest page to see what gets me motivated and gives me inspiration for these pairings. Cheers and happy sipping!

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