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Friulano grapes, which are little known outside of Italy, produce delicious varietal white wines that pair well with food.

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What Are Friulano Grapes?

Friulano is the Italian name for a white grape variety from Bordeaux that’s known as Sauvignonasse in France, Sauvignon Vert in Chile, and Zeleni Sauvignon in Slovenia. Friulano was formerly called Tocai Friulano, but was renamed in 2007 after a court ruling assigned the right to variations of the name ‘tokay’ to the Tokaji wines of Hungary. The Friulano grape is unrelated to the famous Sauvignon blanc, although the grapes look similar. It is theorized that the two may have grown alongside each other in Bordeaux and were mixed up when the plants were exported to Chile.

Where Are Friulano Grapes Grown?

Italy is responsible for 94 percent of Friulano production with more than half of the Friulano grapes grown in Italy’s northeastern region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Friuli-Venezia Giulia may be better known internationally for its Pinot grigio, but it gave its name to Friulano grapes.

Within Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Friulano grapes are the main component of DOC wines such as Colli Orientali del Friuli, Collio Goriziano, Friuli Grave, and Friuli Isonzo. The second largest Friulano region in Italy is Veneto; one origin theory proposes that Friulano actually originated in the Veneto region and was later exported to France. Outside of Italy, Friulano is grown to a much lesser extent in Slovenia, Chile, Australia, Romania, and the United States, in California and New York.

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What Does Friulano Wine Taste Like?

White wines made with Friulano grapes taste different depending on their age. When consumed young, Friulano wines are light in both body and color, with a floral, fruity aroma, slight minerality, and high acidity. Aging these wines in oak barrels like Chardonnay mellows the minerality and boosts the body.

What Are the Best Friulano Wine Food Pairings?

Friulano wine pairs well with vegetables, chicken, and seafood. Try it with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus topped with a poached egg, a cheese plate, spaghetti alle vongole, or roast chicken with rice pilaf.

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