Wines in Italy are important matter. Italian wines have a special place between world food an wine. This is not a comprehensive list, just a brief description of some popular Italian wines, to help you choose your perfect Italian wine when dinning in a restaurant or for your own home Italian dinner set up.
Popular Wines in Italy
Italians love their wine as much as their food. Italy is a great wine country, producing and exporting thousands of bottles every year. Certainly, Italian wine doesn't need to play second fiddle to French wine.
Italy is an intricate wine area, one of the most complex areas in the world, with many wine producing regions and grape varieties. The Italian government established its own control system, the characters "DOC" seen on the label mean "Denominazione di Origine Controllata" and it refers to the geographical area the wine is produced, the grapes used and how the wines are aged, dry/sweet/months required, alcohol content, merit etc.
Frascati - strongly aromatic white wine from Castelli Romani, produced on the hills close to Rome. There are dry and abboccato -sweet, but not too much- wines. Frascati wine is uncomplicated; its fruity flavor goes well with a great range of foods, though not one of the most admired Italian wines.
Chianti - well known ruby red wine from the region between Florence and Siena. Two red grape varieties and two white ones are used to produce Chianti. The popular Chianti wine must be consumed young; comes usually bottled in a small carafes with straw sheaths. Chianti classic, a reserve wine, is distributed in proper wine bottles when properly aged; ideal as a compliment to meat based main courses.
Bardolino - a pale red wine with a hint of tanginess, is made from the same grape mix than Valpolicella. It comes from the southest shores of Lago di Garda, in the Veneto.
Marsala - a fine Sicilian wine for dessert. Marsala is a fortified wine. Very cold dry Marsla constitutes an uncommon aperitif; sweet Marsala should be consumed to room temperature after a meal. This wine is not so popular nowadays and production levels have been dropped to a minimum.
Asti Spumante - it is the most famous sparkling wine after Champagne. Sweet and fragrant, it is made with Moscato grapes from the vineyards surrounding Asti, in the Piemonte. Asti was the world's first sweet sparkling wine, produced by the Asti method in which grape-must ferments in sealed tanks until it reaches between five and seven percent alcohol; it is, then filtered under pressure to stop further fermantation. Try a dry Asti Spumoso when you cannot find Champagne.
Lacryma Christi - made with the grapes growing on the Vesubio's volcanic hillsides. Not as well known as other Italian wines, but it reminds me of the sun, beaches, and summer warmth found vacationing in Pompey.
Soave - an extremely pale white wine, with delicate lemon and almond flavors. Soave is a very popular choice for parties and celebrations.
Valpolicella - a deep red wine from the same land as Romeo and Juliet. It has a fruity flavor with a touch of almond bitterness at the end. Valpolicella should age for two to three years to give its best.
Wine in the Italian regions
Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Trentino, Veneto
Tuscany, Le Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise
South of Italy and the Islands
Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily
DOCG wines, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, a few elite wines can sport this phrase on their label.
DOC, Denominazione di Origine Controlata, this phrase appears on the rest of the quality wines recognized by the Italian government.
Some labels will say vino da tavola and the place the wine was produced.
Very common table wines won't have a geographical location, only the word Italy.
Wine with open doors
Pencil the Cantine Aperte day in May, when wineries across the country open their doors for guided tours and tasting events.
Italian food and wine pairing
Classic matches are Floretine steak and Chianti Classico, Ossobucco and Barolo, Risotto and Soave.
Use Italian wines with rare beef, creamy sauces, and salami.