This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005.

Sangue di Giuda

One of the most harmlessly perverse joys of wine for me, as regular readers will surely know by now, is the pleasure of discovering another offbeat and unusual wine, one that comes from an exotic grape or region, delivers an unexpected aroma and flavor profile, or carries a charming story.

Today's wine hits the trifecta: This odd but appealing Northern Italian red ticks off every one of those criteria. It comes from the little-known region Oltrepò Pavese ("From Pavia on the far side of the Po") ... it's made, mostly, from the seldom-seen grapes Croatina ("The Little Croatian Girl") and Rara Uva (literally, "Rare Grape") ... and get this for a story: Its name, Sangue di Giuda, recalls Judas, the apostle who, according to the Gospel story, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

"Judas's Blood"? What kind of a wine name is that!

Enrica Verdi, with Azienda Bruno Verdi, the seven-generation family producer of today's featured wine, responded (in English, thankfully) to my E-mail question: "Local legend has it that the name ... was given by friars who disapproved of its stimulating and aphrodisiac effects. Today, Sangue di Giuda is enjoyed as a country wine but still - so itís said - enjoy its more 'exciting' attributes!"

Don't look for an alcoholic knockout effect from Sangue di Giuda, though. This wine draws its party style not from full body or strength but from a light (7.5 percent alcohol), slightly sweet and frothy character that invites quaffing, laughing and maybe a round or two of karaoke.

And there's no need to let the gory name nor the story of Judas's betrayal get you down: This odd but amiable little wine comes from a vineyard named ... Paradiso.

Sangue di Giuda Bruno Verdi 2004 "Sangue di Giuda" "Paradiso" Oltrepò Pavese ($11.99)

Very dark reddish-purple, almost black; a line of bubbles circles the edge of the glass. Intriguing sweet dried-fruit aromas are reminiscent of spice cake, an impression borne out by a flavor that's both sweet and tart, with dried-fruit and spice character that follows the nose, a gentle prickle on the tongue and a hint of hot cinnamon candies in the finish. Odd but intriguing. I suggest serving it slightly chilled. U.S. importer: Rosenthal Wine merchant, NYC. (Sept. 16, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Like the Lambrusco that it somewhat resembles, this light and slightly sweet wine invites a non-traditional match with hot-and-spicy fare. It paired beautifully with a Cajun-style sausage and seafood gumbo.

VALUE: No qualms at all about this unusual and intriguing wine at the $12 price point.

WHEN TO DRINK: Its fresh, frothy fruit is best enjoyed while the wine is young. Drink it up this year, then look for the 2005.

WEB LINK:
Bruno Verdi has an in-depth and informative site about the family winery, its history, vineyards and wines, online in Italian and English. Here's the English-language home page:
http://www.ete.it/50z00001.php3?idart=z1&area=verdibruno
For quick access, the U.S. importer has similar information in English plain-text format:
http://www.madrose.com/verdiprint.html

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
This is another from a case of affordable wines that I bought from New York's Chambers Street Wines, where they specialize in offbeat wines of value. Check
http://www.chambersstwines.com/
and use the "Search for Items" link near the bottom of the page to search for "Verdi." ("Giuda" won't bring it up due to a misspelling in the database.)

To find other vendors for Bruno Verdi wines, check the databases on Wine-Searcher.com:
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Bruno%2bVerdi/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP

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