Words and names fascinate me. They are a linguistic insight into a culture and a way of thinking. And drinking.
So I 'collect' these words wherever and whenever I can.
The curious commingling of culture in north central and north east Italy---the Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli, and the Veneto---have created some wonderful and unforgettable wine names.
Teroldego, full formal name Teroldego Rotaliano.
Depending upon the authority you're listening to, that would be derived from "the gold of Tirol--or Tyrol", or from the German root word "teer", which means tar, and which alludes to some characteristic tarry aspects of the wine.
A delightful and easily attainable Teroldego is made by Elisabetta Foradori
Over in Friuli, a region I truly love, enough so that I could easily concoct some fantasy of a past life there and could happily live there in my dotage as an impoverished American expatriate nibbling on prosciutto and sipping on wine and Illy cafe, there are, of course abundant names from the collision of Italian, German, Austrian, and Slovenian cultures that have trammeled back and forth over the centuries in this surprisingly quiet and pastoral little backwater (in terms of raging tourism, I mean to say.)
Tazzelenghe, which is Italian for "cut the tongue", referring to the amazingly thin, sharp red wine with such high acids and phenols that it "slices the tongue" when it is tasted. Sounds delicious, hm?
Well, actually...it can be good, although many think of it as an *ahem* acquired taste. It is definitely an angular, sharp-edged wine, and needs food to temper its acerbity, but with a simple sandwich of prosciutto da San Nicola (a local treasure), a little butter (hey, can you really have too much fat in your diet?) and a crusty loaf of fresh-baked bread, maybe a little basilico, Tazzelenghe comes into its own.
For a reliable producer, look for Girolamo Dorigo Tazzelenghe.
Schioppettino---is rather assertive as well, although not nearly to the degree of Tazzelenghe. Schioppettino, which means 'little gunshot' in local Italian dialect, is an apt name for a wine that is almost explosive in the mouth with its tightly demarcated flavors that snap the palate to attention in a one-gun salute to vinous pucker power.
For a reliable producer, try Bressan Schioppettino.
But to step back from such literary over-reach, let's just say the Schioppettino is usually more tame than that, and can be a very satisfying red, in a charming, rustic sort of way. Served quite well when an impromptu picnic in an Italian churchyard in the Grave del Friuli beckoned. And to this day, I don't know if the slight, lingering notes of gunpowder were actual, or merely a product of my all too fertile imagination as I lolled contentedly on the greensward swilling the wine.
I think it doesn't really matter anyway.