Brachetto d'Acqui, also known as Acqui, is a DOCG found in Italy's north-western Piedmont region. It was awarded its classification in 1996, and its vineyard area of 2674 acres (1082ha) is strictly limited to 18 communes in the province of Asti and eight in the province of Alessandria, near the town of Acqui Terme, south-east of Asti. According to regulations, topography plays a major part in the quality of production and only those vines grown on soils primarily comprising calcareous-clay and marl-rich components are considered suitable.
Like many of the Italian wine regions, this wine has a story behind it. Traditionally it was very popular with the most famous character in the Italian comedy of masks, Gianduja da Gioan d'Laduja (Giovanni of the Jug). This character's high spirits and bubbly personality were compared to the fragrant red Brachetto d'Acqui wine in the jug he invariably carried around with him.
Brachetto is the red grape from which this wine is made, to the exclusion of any other. It is thought to have originated in and around the hills near Asti, most likely the Monferrato hills, although in their 1875 publication Ampelografia della Provincia di Alessandria, ampelographers Demaria and Leardi proposed that it came from Nice in eastern Provence.
Brachetto d'Acqui's unique aroma and flavor stems from its natural sweetness, intense aromatics and low alcohol (around 5.5% alcohol by volume). It is produced by macerating the must with the grape skins for approximately two days, during which time the characteristic ruby pigment leaches out, along with a certain amount of tannin. After fermentation the wine is aged in bottle for three months or more. This usually semi-sparkling frizzante red is characterized by its perfumed bouquet reminiscent of rose petals, strawberries and raspberries, and has a soft mousse (delicate foam) and mouthfeel. It is an excellent aperitif and provides an ideal match for fruit tarts, chocolate or Amaretti di Mombaruzzo, a traditional amaretto biscuit from the Acqui Terme area.