Is Gertrude (a) a pink pig native to Tuscany or (b) a nonvintage red wine from the same gastronomically blessed region? The answer is both a and b. We have no firsthand acquaintance of the pig but La Maialina Gertrude is a rich and lively blend of sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon that goes for about $12 a bottle at wine-savvy markets and wine shops.
Its aroma is a distinctive meld of dates and warm spices. On the tongue both date and spice are joined by nuanced black cherry, dark chocolate and tobacco in a robust but graceful blend. The medium-long finish carries all those flavors through to a most satisfying end.
So why are we deviating from our informal series on summery whites? Because every now and then, even in the heat of August, one may well develop a craving for a gorgeous thick ribeye sauced in cognac and black peppercorns, a dish that demands a muscular red wine, preferably one with a sense of humor. Gertrude fills that bill nicely.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.