Wine and cheese: Pecorino

Mmm, Pecorino! If you love Italian cheese or Italian food in general, your taste buds may be tingling at the mere mention of this buttery, nutty, sharp and earthy pale-yellow sheep’s milk cheese.

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Particularly if it’s Pecorino Romano, the sought-after version from Central Italy that bears “DOP” (Protected Denomination of Origin) on the label, the quality guarantee that’s akin to the “DOC” and “DOCG” label on quality Italian wines.

Hey! Did you know Pecorino is an Italian wine, too? This may sound like too much of a coincidence to ignore, but that’s all it is. The name Pecorino may be used for any Italian sheep’s milk cheese. The word, after all, means “little sheep.”

Pecorino wine doesn’t really have much to do with sheep. It is called that, according to one old story, because grazing sheep were tempted by the tasty Pecorino grapevine leaves in hillside vineyards in Abruzzo, where it’s made. Pecorino sheep’s milk cheeses are made all over Italy, but the sought-after Pecorino Romano cheese – which traces its heritage back to the Roman Empire – is limited by regulation to Sardinia and central Italy around Rome, on the other side of Italy from Pecorino wines’s Abruzzese origin.

Torre Raone's Pecorino vineyards on Abruzzi's Colline Pescaresi hills.

Torre Raone’s Pecorino vineyards on Abruzzi’s Colline Pescaresi hills.

Pecorino wine has a long heritage, too, dating back centuries in vineyards along Italy’s Adriatic coast, but it doesn’t produce heavily and didn’t make a sought-after wine, so by the mid-20th century most wineries had dug out the vines and replaced them with more commercial if less exciting Trebbiano.

According to, “the variety was thought to be extinct until a local producer researching native varieties found some forgotten vines in an overgrown vineyard. Cuttings were taken and propagated, and eventually grew enough grapes to make a very good wine in the early 1990s. Since then, the variety’s plantings have grown exponentially, and Pecorino is now found across the Marche, Abruzzo, Umbria and Tuscany.”

The Pecorino featured in today’s tasting report, Torre Raone Colline Pescaresi Pecorino, is an excellent example at an an affordable price in the mid-teens. It’s 100 percent Pecorino sourced from three estate vineyards, made from organic grapes from 15-year-old vines. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel, it sees no oak, resting four months in tank and two in bottle before release.

Only 583 cases are produced each year, but it’s fairly widely available, with numerous vendors listed on

And call it a coincidence if you wish, but this is a fact: Pecorino wine goes very nicely with Pecorino Romano cheese. If you try it, I hope you’ll let me know what you think. My tasting notes are below.

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Today’s Tasting Report

Torre Raone 2020 Colline Pescaresi Pecorino ($15.99)

Torre Raone Colline Pescaresi Pecorino

Torre Raone Pecorino shows a pretty light-gold color. Pleasant lemon and lime aromas, ripe peach and a whiff of clover honey loft from the glass. Fresh and bright on the palate, a tart and fresh citric flavor comes in first, with a hint of fresh-fruit sweetness and pricky petillance following, briefly reminiscent of the Mexican soft drink Jarritos limón, but the sugary sensation passes quickly, leaving tart, palate-tingling acidity and whiffs of stony minerality that linger. 12% alcohol. U.S. importer: Skurnik Wines, NYC. (July 3, 2021)

FOOD MATCH: Cheese – perhaps fancifully, Italy’s Pecorino – and freshwater fish, dark chicken meat, or mushrooms are all good matches. We enjoyed it with a pasta dish, bucatini with zucchini, onions, and garlic plus … Pecorino Romano cheese!

WHEN TO DRINK: I don’t see it as a long ager, but this fresh 2020 vintage is just beautiful right now. I advise buying it and drinking it over the next year or two.

It’s an excellent value at’s $14 average U.S. retail, and I’m not really complaining about paying $2 more at a local wine shop.

The winery’s fact sheet is available at this link in English and Italian.

Importer Skurnik Wines offers a similar fact sheet here.

Check prices and find vendors for Torre Raone Colline Pescaresi Pecorino on

Find links to vendors for more wines from Torre Raone at this Wine-Searcher link.

Find links to vendors for more wines from Torre Raone at this Wine-Searcher link.

Learn more about the Pecorino grape and find vendor and price information for other producers on Wine-Searcher here.


Wine Focus: Talk About Cabernet Franc

We’re headed into the next segment of our 2021 Wine Focus. For the next three months we’ll talk about wine grapes that have built their reputations on wines from particular, sometimes smaller, regions. We’ll start in July with Cabernet Franc, which built its reputation on the right bank of Bordeaux, as well as in the Loire Valley. It’s expanding its reach these days, with excellent examples from too many places to count, from the Pacific Northwest to Virginia, to Patagonia. Join us! Taste a Cab Franc and click to come talk about it with us: Wine 301: Cabernet Franc.


Good wines under $10.99! (Updated!)

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10.99 or less that I’ve told you about in recent years. In some cases the prices may have risen over the $10.99 mark since I reviewed them, but they should still be excellent bargains. Please tell us about your favorites!

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