Sicily’s popular red wine, nero d’avola, with attractive fruit and clean, bright acids, beats merlot with grilled pork tenderloin

When nephew-in-law Ron gifted me with a baker’s dozen bottles of wine that he and a savvy merchant thought would intrigue me — a 2007 Terre del nero d’avola was included.

As I was planning a mostly-grilled meal for a bright, welcome Memorial Day, at first I figured on offering a modest merlot because the meal wasn’t going to be a blockbuster. Instead, it would want a wine that wouldn’t upstage the food.

So I returned a merlot to the shelf and opened Ron’s nero d’avola. I liked it! An online source told me that some Americans liken this wine to syrah, and that’s not a bad comparison. But Judy reluctantly gave some of the nero d’avola back to me and reached for an open bottle of Charles Shaw (“Two Buck Chuck”) non-vintage shiraz; she likes a little more kick). That worked okay, too.

I’d found a one-pound pork tenderloin, pre-marinated with wine and Italian herbs. Instead of searing it first, then slowly finishing it on the warming shelf of my grill, I reversed the operations. My grill has a separate turbo-searing grate which I use a lot. It was a very pretty tenderloin.

With it we had high-fiber grilled bread slices dressed with a sauce (two-thirds freshly made salt-free tomato puree, one-third light sour cream), topped with a pile of slow-sauteed caramelized onions and, finally, slices of tenderloin.

On the side we had parboiled cauliflower segments that I’d finished on the grill using walnut oil and Trader Joe’s 21-seasoning salute herb mix. The food came together in subtle complexity. This is one of my creations that I might some time try again, which I almost never do.

The wine is really inky dark, its highlights ruby red and as appealing (almost) as a second-story window along an Amsterdam canal. Its tannic backbone is a welcome addition to the other acids which are bright and complex. Dark plum with hints of cassis describe not only an attractive flavor but a rich mouthfeel. It is not a long-legged fullbred filly kind of wine, yet even without a glycerine effect it is round and full and, well, Sicilian. Nobody in Italy, let alone in the southern island, wants an “ordinary” wine; no wonder real Mediterranean oenophiles like this wine, which some say is as Grecian as Italian.

Maybe you’ve guessed that I liked both the wine and the food last evening. We were on our tree-shaded patio surrounded by all the herbs I cook with. We had put flowers on our little son’s cremains crypt up the street from our church, and it seemed the right time for some soul food, and that’s what we had.