Top 4 wines under AED100 (column 14)

Luca Gagliardi - Wines in UAE - #FooDivaVino

Meet sommelier Luca Gagliardi, GM at Pierchic

Dear readers, happy first birthday to us! Time goes fast, and this 14th wine column marks our first anniversary 🙂 I fondly remember the day I wrote our first ever column, and even though if I’ve been a sommelier for nearly three decades, I wondered whether readers would be interested in my personal views on wine. I questioned whether my writing would be easy enough for non-professionals to engage in our beautiful world. The doubts were quickly dispelled as soon as the column went live and I began to see your interaction. Thank you to each and every one of you, as well as FooDiva for allowing me to wax lyrical about wine.

I have no other way of celebrating this anniversary than by focusing on my country of birth, Italy, which taught me to drink and appreciate wines. In those days, I was in love with Veneto and Tuscan wines. Those two regions can produce some of the most outstanding and expensive wines in the world – think super Tuscans and Amarones. However, they are also leaders in producing some fantastic, affordable wines.

We bring you this column regularly thanks to our key partner Monviso, the Italian natural mineral water brand with its low sodium content and total dissolved solids – available across the UAE at leading supermarkets, restaurants, and via a newly launched app with water delivered straight to your door. With all this wine drinking, you need to stay hydrated 🙂

Special thanks to both MMI and A&E where you can buy these wines, in addition to duty free of course. As usual, please note this column contains references to alcohol, and is therefore only for reading if you are of a legal drinking age in your country of residence (21 years in the UAE) and non-Muslim.

So here’s our 14th column, with top 4 wines under AED100 including tax – coincidentally all 2015 vintages. Do you have a wine, a particular grape, or a wine region that brings back fond memories for you? Let us know what you think in the comments or on social media using the hashtag #FooDivaVino. If you missed them, here are the previous columns. Cin cin 🙂

  • #FooDivaVino - Wines in UAE - Wines under AED100 - FooDivaVilla Antinori, Bianco, Tuscany, Italy, 2015: Bianco which means white doesn’t need an introduction, as it’s becoming a favourite table wine of many a wine connoisseur. Similarly, Antinori is one of the world’s top wine producers. The beauty of this wine relies on the clean and simple flavours of pear, apple, grapefruit and lime. It’s delicate, elegant and very well balanced. The blend combines five different grape varieties – Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia Toscana, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio and a small percentage of Riesling. It was born to be a winner, and indeed it is. Thanks to the flavour profile and great acidity, it makes an excellent food companion. My wife and I pair it with take-away sushi and maki rolls, or when we make a simple salmon or tuna tartare, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. AED70 + tax from MMI.
  • Bolla, Soave, Veneto, Italy, 2015: Soave is a wine production area situated in the eastern part of Verona. It’s been a famous white wine since the 1920s – a blend of mainly Garganega grape with a small amount of Trebbiano di Soave. As for its name, the wine is Soave or ‘soft’ as per the English translation, and boasts a fantastic floral bouquet and white fruit flavours with great lemon acidity. Bolla is a large producer that made this wine very famous globally, knowing very well how to treat these grape varieties. Due to its floral characteristics, it’s very versatile for food pairing. I tend to match it with salmon dishes, taramasalata dips and grilled salmon Caesar salad. Also works well with a simple fish tartare and beef carpaccio. It’s a perfect companion as an aperitif while cooking dinner. AED56 + tax from A&E.
  • Rocca di Montemassi, Le Focaie, Tuscany, 2015: This red wine is made entirely from the Sangiovese grape, and it’s by far one of my favourite Sangiovese wines under AED100. That’s because it hails from the south of Tuscany, an area by the name of Maremma, which enjoys warm weather and fertile soil, giving the wine more softness and elegance, together with plenty of spicy characteristics. It’s a complex wine, with spice notes such as cinnamon and cloves, together with the unique flavours of sour morello cherries and plums, typical of the Sangiovese grape. Keep the pairing to North African delicacies, such as beef shish kebabs, lamb tagines, grilled meats marinated in garlic and harissa, and spicy yoghurt marinated chicken kebabs. AED77 + tax from MMI.
  • Folonari, Valpolicella, Veneto, 2015: A wine to be enjoyed by everybody. In my long sommelier experience, I have encountered many Valpolicella aficionados. There is no way I could let them try a different wine. It’s a lively wine, with tart cherry, cranberry and raspberry notes – as well as flavours of leather, black pepper, herbs and violet candy – yet still an easy drinking wine. Valpolicella is a blend of three grape varieties – Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara – all indigenous to the Veneto region. It’s a wine I enjoy serving slightly chilled. Best paired with a selection of hams and cheeses, in pure Italian style. Also great with eggplant Parmigiana, lasagna and cannelloni.  AED57 + tax from A&E.

Monviso WaterWHO IS LUCA GAGLIARDI? Sommelier by birth, and Michelin-starred trained maître d’, Luca is GM of Pierchic. His CV spans a decade to the service of world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay, followed by Roberto’s, Iris, Solo and R Trader. In his spare time, Luca is in his state-of-the-art home kitchen cooking for friends and discovering new wines, typically anything but rosé! You can follow him on his wine blog Tasted and Rated, Twitter at @sommelierdubai and on Instagram at @tastedandrated – or for wine consultancy services via email at

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