It's more difficult to make quality cheap red wine than it is to make quality cheap white wine, which is always one of the challenges that the Wine Curmudgeon faces in finding a red to serve as the wine of the week. Complicating the issue this summer is Dallas' record-setting heat wave. I'm dedicated to what I do, but 14 1/2 percent red wines and 105-degree temperatures do not agree with each other, especially when I have to taste three of four wines at one time.
Thankfully, several wine regions still produce lighter and less alcoholic red wines, so I've been touring Spain and Italy this summer. Which, of course, I do a lot anyway, but I've been paying more attention over the last couple of months.
That's how I found the Berro ($10, purchased), stuffed on the shelf at what is probably Dallas' best Italian wine retailer (and wonderfully grungy and old-fashioned as well). It's from the Piedmont region and made with the barbera grape, which produces more rustic kinds of wines.
The Berro fits that description well. It was a little choppy toward the end, with too much oak showing (though that may eventually go away), but otherwise all was as it should be — sour cherry fruit, not especially heavy and low in alcohol at just 12 1/2 percent. The Berro needs food, like barbecue or burgers, and don't be afraid to chill it for 20 or 30 minutes. No, it's a not a fruity, New World-style merlot that you'll hardly notice going down, but that's not what I was looking for.