Zibibbo is the Italian synonym for a white grape called “Muscat of Alexandria.” This grape is thought to be from Northern Africa—specifically Egypt, and perhaps even the city of Alexandria itself—thus its name. There are thoughts that Cleopatra drank wine made from this grape.
There are two schools of thought on the name Zibibbo. One thought is that the name is a derivative of the Arabic word “zabib,” which means raisin. The other thought is that the name is a derivative of the Arabic word “zibib” which means grape.
Zibibbo, or Muscat of Alexandria, is believed to be the oldest genetically unmodified vines in the world. The grape is notably planted in Italy, on the island of Sicily, Sicilian island of Pantelleria, and Calabria. It is the sixth-most-planted grape in Spain. It is also grown in Australia and South Africa.
The grape grows as a large, lush, and golden orb that is sensitive to cold; therefore, does well in hot climates. It is susceptible to powdery mildew, and is well suited for arid areas with low humidity, which lessens the risk of molds and mildews.
The Muscat family of grapes are known for smelling like ‘‘grapes’’ and for being very aromatic. The flavors of the grape lend themselves to sweet wines, which are often made from grapes that were allowed to raisin on the vine, or that were dried on straw mats. There are also many dry wines made from these grapes. The grapes are often used to make sherry, port, brandy, and distilled spirits too.
City Vino has the Pellegrino Gibele Zibibbo 2018 available, which is made from 100 percent Zibibbo. The grapes for this wine are grown on the clay and volcanic soils of Agro di Petrosino, and Mazara del Vallo, on the island of Sicily. The wine is dry, unlike many other wines made from this grape, and it is straw yellow in color. In keeping with the characteristics of this aromatic grape, the wine has intense floral aromas of jasmine, lavender and wisteria, along with green apple, and a touch of cedar. On the palate, this wine has a dry, fresh and long finish with flavors of citrus, yellow peach, and green apple.
This wine is a natural pairing for fresh seafood like sushi, delicate pan sautéed light fish, and shellfish. For cheese pairings, we would suggest trying this with a non-sharp cheddar or a nutty Gruyere.