Cusumano Nero d’Avola 2014|Sicily
I have no clue as to where I got this wine or how it came to be my wine rack. It could have been in a box of birthday wines Mrs. Dan received last April. I could have found it on sale. I did a quick search in my wine database and found I tried this back in 2010 when it was featured at a wine tasting at Ninth Street.

From the Cusumano Website
From the Cusumano Website

I wish I could figure it out because I would like to buy some more. There was an “Easter egg” I found with this wine. It has a glass cork or rather a glass stopper. I’ve never seen a wine come with a glass stopper. Pretty cool.
I like the Nero d’Avola grape. It is an indigenous to Sicily. Wikipedia says it is Italian for “Black of Avola” and is named Avola for the far southern region of Sicily. It has sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavors.
For many years the Villa Ponzi Nero D’Avola was one of my go-to wines (I prefer the vintages from 2009 through 2013. Some of the later ones not so much).
This grape has lots of body and I like a wine that is peppery. Cusumano has nice dark flavors that turn a bit tart on the end of the first sip. Then on the second sip the tannins seem to change and the peppery flavors start to jump out.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of this wine. I was rack diving because I was saving a bunch of others and wanted something to go with the Zaxby’s caesar salad I had. This wine was very nice when I nibbled on the grilled chicken.
This is a wine to enjoy when you are tired of drinking cabs. I wish now I had opened something else and saved this one for when I could taste some cheeses or grilled steak with it.
That got me thinking. I started digging through the fridge finding something to pair with it. I tried some Jarlsburg cheese and some herb and pepper encrusted dry Italian salami. Nothing. I mean the flavors of the cheese and meat didn’t change and the wine didn’t seem to change. Maybe this is more of a neutral food wine. That’s not such a bad thing. I can’t remember how many times I tried a “great wine” that someone talked me into buying that only tastes worth a hoot when paired with the perfect food and finding the perfect food didn’t happen.
The glass stopper
The glass stopper

Then my brain took a nap and I saw a green pepper I picked from the garden this afternoon. Mrs. Dan has planted lots of different peppers this year. She’s already made a batch of pickled jalapeños. I had been disappointed that her Carolina Reapers hadn’t done squat. Not that you need more than 1 pepper a year since they are the hottest thing known to man but I was disappointed none the less. While digging around for the last of this season’s tomatoes in the far garden I saw a strange wrinkled pepper in the middle of the tomato vines. I realized it was a Carolina Reaper. And there were hundreds of them. The plant had managed to shoot up sideways and was producing peppers no where near where she had planted it. I took a taste of the tip. Not so much heat. This thing is still green. I then tried toward the center and realized the seeds weren’t quite mature. I’ve been told lots of the heat is in the seeds. I started to feel the heat. I then sipped the Cusumano Nero d’Avola. There were flavors jumping around my mouth I can’t describe. It was quite amazing and worth the risk. A nice peppery wine meets the pepper from Hell.
Now for the downside. A few minutes after my daring pairing my lips are stinging as if I had kissed a stinging nettle. Luckily I just chewed a bit of the inner pulp. If I had swallowed it I would be in a fetal position in the bathtub. But I complain too much. Now 5 minutes out and the stinging is gone. I might try this again with other wines but not after those puppies turn red and lethal.
I digress. Cusumano Nero d’Avola is a wine worth trying. I see that the 2014 I’m drinking got 87 points from Wine Spectator. And I have a glass stopper to boot.
I did a quick Google search for this wine and lots of wine sites lists it for $9.99. Maybe I did buy this one at the store. It fits my Cheap Wine Bastard price range.
Winery: Cusumano


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