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Katherine Donnelly: Get fruity with this warm Italian

If the weather outside is frightful, it is the time to take comfort in wines that have soaked up the maximum amount of sunshine.

Not that it's a good thing for a grape to be too sun-baked. That is where too much alcohol and jamminess come in.

Grapes generally require a minimum of 1,500 hours of sun to ripen properly, reds needing more than white.

Give a grape enough sun and heat and it has no problem producing sugar, which converts into alcohol. But the fruit must mature in every sense.

So, making decent wine begs a variety that will withstand temperatures and ripen evenly. Southern Italy and its indigenous grapes do it well. It's home to the Puglia region and Salento, which benefits from sea breezes.

Salento is home to a number of robust red grapes, chiefly Negroamara and Primitivo. The latter is particularly sensitive to rain, and produces warm, rich and spicy wines.

Match it with some hearty foods and you won't care about the weather.

Weekend Magazine