Frappato: A Guide to Summer’s Essential Red

Cool Down Frappato Wine Woman Song scaled
From the island where there is ice-cream for breakfast, Frappato red wine knows how to cool you down when the temperature rises.  The best comes from the hot region of Ragusa in southern Sicily, where it reaches over 40 degrees in summer (also home to some of the world’s best sun-dried tomatoes, too). Here’s what you need to know about this lesser-known Italian red wine:

What is Frappato? 

The first thing to know is that it’s a red wine made from Frappato grapes.  If you ever saw the opening shots of the Italian series, Inspector Montalbano, you may remember the baroque architecture of Monica and Ragusa in the opening shots before a swim in the Mediterranean. 

Frappato has a history of cultivation in Sicily stretching back to 1760s, though its exact origins are unknown.

The name could have derived from several different words; Jancis Robinson and Jose Vouillamoz in Wine Grapes suggest it may come from a corruption of the word “frutatto” meaning ‘fruitful’.

The grape is also used in Sicily’s Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, which is a blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola (another Sicilian grape.)

Frappato add freshness and aromatics when blended with native other grape varieties from Sicily, such as Nero d’Avola and Nerello Mascalese.  The grape is also used in Sicily’s only DOCG – Cerasuolo di Vittoria, which is a blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola (another Sicilian grape.) This wine is very different than Sicilian red wines you’ll find at the supermarket. It has more body and tannins, while still retaining some of the strawberry fruit aroma.
Frappato - Map of Sicily / Wiki Commons

Frappato from Ragusa – Map of Sicily / Wiki Commons

Ragusa province Sicily Wine Woman Song

Ragusa province Sicily – Lyle Wilkinson / unsplash

How do you drink Frappato?

Wine and food pairing

There’s something about its freshness and elegance that makes it perfect for hot weather. It’s also a very quaffable red wine, meaning you can serve it at more casual gatherings—think BBQs or pool parties—without feeling too fancy. It’s not just an apero option, either. Frappato pairs well with grilled meats, so consider this your go-to when hosting a barbecue or outdoor party during the summer months.

What is Frappato wine similar to?

Frappato may remind you of Beaujolais. It’s a light, fruity red wine that has some spice and is not too tannic. Although the spicy cherry and blood oranges flavours places you straight away in southern Sicily.  It can be aged for around 5 years, but it’s better drunk young. This makes it a good choice for people who don’t want anything very heavy or complicated. It’s also great with food as it pairs well with Mediterranean cuisine and grilled meats.  
Dattorini tomatoes @winewomansong

Dattorini tomatoes and oregano in Monica /My photo @winewomansong

Frappato is known for its bright acidity

Understanding acidity is the key to food and wine pairing. And the best way to get to know a grape variety is to try it with food. Especially a Sicilian grape variety. One of the best ways to enjoy Frappato wine is with seafood and pasta. The bright acidity of this red wine makes it an excellent choice for pairing with seafood because acidity enhances the flavours of dishes made with fish and shellfish, which tend to be relatively mild in flavour on their own. The best way to enjoy Frappato is by itself, or paired with lighter fare like
  • Grilled meats
  • Seafood
  • Salads dressed in olive oil and vinegar,
  • Aged cheeses (like pecorino),
  • Cured meats (such as prosciutto), or
  • Fresh fruits such as strawberries or figs.
Cos Frappato Sicily - Wine Woman Song

Cos Frappato Terre Siciliane igt / @wineandwear

Frappato has a low to medium alcohol content, with most falling around 12.5 percent ABV.

Frappati are low to medium alcohol wines, with most falling around 12.5 percent ABV. They’re also surprisingly light-bodied, considering they’re full of fruit and acidity—but not so light that they taste like a cheap glass of red table wine.

Tasting notes for Frappato

There are simple Frappato that tastes of boiled strawberries and cherry. And then there is the complex versions blood orange, flowers and almonds with tertiary characters of dried strawberry and tobacco. Here are some other flavours you can expect from a glass of Frappato, from primary to tertiary characters:
  • Strawberry, pomegranate and blood orange
  • Almond, clove aromas.
  • Dried strawberry, tobacco, clove

How do you serve Frappato wine?

Frappato should be served slightly chilled. To get the most out of your bottle of Frappato, chill it down to make it more “smashable”. You can chill this down to 10 degrees Celsius, which means you’ll be able to open it up, pour yourself some glasses for your friends and family members (or yourself) on a hot day, enjoy good food together…and then do it all over again when the night cools down!

Final thoughts

The mark of a good everyday wine is its versatility. Whether it’s served chilled in the summer or un-chilled during winter, it has layers and flavours that keep you coming back. But Frappato is the ultimate summer wine. To best enjoy your Frappato, embrace the idea of chillable reds and stay cool. 

Recommended wines: 

There are a few Frappato wine from Sicily you must try if you ever see these labels, including: 
  • Occhipinti il Frappato Terre Siciliane
  • Donnafugata Bell’assai Frappato
  • Feudo di Santa Tresa Frappato
  • Pianogrillo Frappato
  • Frappato Scoglitti
  • Gurrieri Frappato
  • Portelli Frappato

Waitrose Loved & Found Frappato £7.99

Waitrose Loved & Found Frappato

Waitrose Loved & Found Frappato – a good introduction to Frappato from the Loved & Found series from Waitrose Cellar. This captures the spirit of Frappato, easy and juicy red that is perfect for chilling. 

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