The Key to Italian Rose? Chiaretto!

Chiaretto? What’s that? Sue and I figured we’d just pass up this month’s Italian Food Wine Travel Chiaretto prompt — it’s summer, we’re busy, we’re traveling, we’ve got big projects going at home, and what is Chiaretto anyway?

But we got an offer we couldn’t refuse: samples! So we looked at our calendars, and committed to it — still with NO IDEA what we were in for but figuring it was something red.

That’s because even though Sue’s family is from Italy, we don’t speak a whole lot of Italian.

If we did, we would have known to expect a very light-colored wine because  “Chiaretto” derives from the Italian term “chiaro” meaning “light” or “pale” — and this wine is indeed that — a pale pink wine made primarily from the red grape Corvina which is also found in Amarone, Valpolicella, and Bardolino. With only the briefest of skin contact, the juice retains this pale pink color that gave it its name.

The grapes are grown near the largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda, located in the northern part of Italy near the Dolomites and between the cities of Verona and Milan; the lake has glacial origins and the grapes are grown on old glacial moraines.

Fan of dry Rose? If you’re having a hard time finding Chiaretto, check out these 6 rose from California or these 4 rose from Provence!

What’s the key to Chiaretto? According to Chiaretto Pink, it goes with everything:


“Chiaretto is perfect as an aperitif, while chatting with friends. It’s perfect for informal lunches or barbecues as well as for elegant dinners. Chiaretto pairs wonderfully with appetizers and finger food. It also goes perfectly with Italian pasta or rice dishes, ravioli and pizza. Chiaretto is excellent with salt water and freshwater fish that is grilled, baked, cooked in salt, boiled or even raw. It’s a fantastic wine for asian food (even the most spicy) and is superb with sushi.” It’s also generally in the price range of $12-18 making it affordable for summer fun!

Elaine Chukan Browne of Hawk Wakawaka describes the key to Chiaretto in this playful video full of typical Italian scenes:

Wines: samples for my review consideration and potential participation in online chat. 

  • 2017 – – Il Pignetto Bardolino – Chiaretto – 12% alcohol SRP under $20
  • 2017 – Bardolino – Chiaretto Classico – Villanella – 12% alcohol SRP under $20


  • Cheese plate featuring rose salami, spring Chimay, and tomme de savoie from Trader Joe’s
  • Zucchini soup (made with a vegetarian potato base using zucchini from Sue’s garden)
  • 4 grilled pizzas on a herbed pizza dough from Trader Joe’s
  • > Shrimp pizza with garlic/olive oil/mozzarella/parm
  • > Margarita with fresh fennel pollen
  • > Salami, ham, mushroom
  • > Pear, brie, candied walnuts

When it comes to pizza on the grill, be playful and creative! These wines LOVE seafood so another fun choice is shrimp with arugula added at the table or lobster on a pizza crust that’s been brushed with olive oil and garlic.

We found both of our wines tonight to be great wines, even though they were completely different wines. We loved our poolside sipper, and I loved the complexity of the second wine with food while we both enjoyed the minerality and the crisp freshens of the first.

2017  Bardolino – Chiaretto Classico – Villabella – 12% alcohol sample
UVE: Corvina 80%, Rondinella 20%

Website: In Italian.

Color: Palest rose gold

Nose: Faint white flowers, nectarine, strawberry

Palate: Strawberry ice, fresh raspberry, crisp, clean,  super refreshing, fresh nectarine, mild acidity, saline lingering mineral finish, clean; palate cleanser

Pairing: Really nice on its own, white seafood, sand dabs. Great with tomme de savoie, brings out the salt and tames the spice in the rose salami, nice with the smoked gouda, fantastic with the shrimp pizza, good, but not great with the zucchini soup, great with the margarita pizza, fresh mozzarella makes all the difference! Fresh, bright, pleasurable, We did not care for the wine with ham, salami and mushroom pizza, but with brie pear and candied walnut pizza, that is dessert right there.

By far we found this wine best with the shrimp, leading us to say, go beachside and seafood with this fun warm day sipping wine.

Easy drinking, light and bright, poolside sipper!


chiaretto loves seafood!

2017 – – Il Pignetto Bardolino – Chiaretto – 12% alcohol sample
Grapes: Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Sangiovese

According to their website,  you’ll find “Il Pignetto” Farm and Winery “on the outer range of the morainal hills that frame southeastern Lake Garda, and from it you command a view which, sweeping across the vineyards, easily extends to “fair Verona”. For over 3 generations, the Morando family have harvested the vineyards at this site. Carried by the passion for striving to obtain the best quality, they merge tradition with technology using the most natural and organic methods possible, both in the farming and protection of the vineyards and processing the grape in the winery.” That means no chemicals are used for weeding and the grapes are all handpicked to ensure quality.

Color: Pale rose

Nose: Rhurbarb, strawberry, grass

Palate: Very crisp and bright

Pairing: We both loved this with our spring Chimay cheese, would be the perfect pairing with a dessert cheese plate. This wine loves the rose salami, it brings out wonderful flavor in the salami. it has the fat and the meat and the spice, with the wine it is intensified and you can taste the complexity of the salami.

Not a perfect pair with our shrimp pizza, better when I dipped the shrimp in some melted butter or with the lobster. While the other was our favorite with the shrimp pizza, we found that it just didn’t do as much in this combo. Great with the margarita: the acidity in the tomato and tomato sauce really liked the acidity in the wine, brings out the rhubarb, strawberry fruit in the wine. It liked the smoked, cured meats and mushroom pizza. This wine was ok with the brie pear pizza, but did not hit the mark like with the  other Chiaretto.

Fascinating how different these two are when compared side by side!

Join me and my fellow writers in the #ItalianFWT group to discover even more about Chiaretto di Bardolino on Twitter, Saturday July 7 at 11 am/EST.  Here’s what we’ll talk about:

17 thoughts on “The Key to Italian Rose? Chiaretto!

    • Thank you Wendy! Sue is really great about combining flavors! We did some research, had some ideas and went shopping then we tasted the wines before she finished putting together the pizzas. They were winners with these food friendly wines!


  1. I haven’t tried making pizza on the grill yet. Maybe tonight. If I only had some Chiaretto left!! The wine is fantastic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. 🙂


    • Yes! We highly recommend doing mini-pizzas on the grill –especially in summer to keep the house cool! Easier to manage and easy to personalize and experiment with them! Sue par-bakes them then adds the toppings and cooks them until they’re bubbly. Great for a light summer dinner or as an appetizer or for a party.


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