Get Your Glasses Ready!
Where does one even begin when it comes to Italian wine? As one of the most prominent members of ‘old world’ wine country, with nearly 400 grape varietals, Italy’s wine landscape is understandably huge. The country may not look big on a map, but when it comes to wine, Italy is a major wine producer. So how do you even get started? We’re here to help on your journey with Italian wine. You’ll be well on your way to being an expert in no time! The good news is, you just have to pay attention and drink a lot of wine.
The star of the wine world in Italy is arguably red wine. Some estimates put Italy’s red wine production at double that of their white, so you know they aren’t messing around. Red wine in Italy is serious business. The most commonly grown varietals include:
- Sangiovese (aka Chianti, Brunello di Monalcino, Montefalco Rosso, and more)
- Montepulciano (aka Rosso Canero, Rosso Piceno)
- Primitovo (aka Zinfandel)
You’ll notice a lot of these varietals have different names. That can make things tricky, but if you check the labels correctly and learn the most common synonyms, you should be able to figure out what you’re picking up.
What’s the difference?
All of these reds are going to lean on the drier side, so if you have a sweet tooth when it comes to wine, Italian reds probably isn’t going to be where you want to start things out. Barbera and Primitivo are medium-bodied wines with earthy and fruit-forward notes, respectively. Bolder wines include Sanviovese, Montepulciano, and Nebbiolo. Montepulciano is fruitier, whereas the other two will give you more earthy notes with higher acidity and tannins. Any of these choices are going to give you a really good base to get started on your Italian red wine journey.
White wine might not be Italy’s prominent export, but the whites they are producing are some of the best. With a wide range of varietals growing in their vineyards, there are a ton of options for you. Some of the most common varietals of white you’ll find coming from Italy include:
- Pinot Grigio
- Prosecco (aka Glera)
- Sauvignon (aka Tocai Friulano)
Pinot Grigio goes by Pinot Gris in France and isn’t native to Italy. However, the varietal has been growing in Italy for over a century now and is one of the most popular wines in the world.
Choosing the Right White
The 5 wines listed above are varied in taste profiles, so there is bound to be something you enjoy. Besides Prosecco, they are all still wines. Pinot Grigio and Verdicchio fall on the ‘light and zesty’ spectrum of white wines. If you’re looking for something bolder and drier, Trebbiano could be the right wine for you. Sauvignon is generally herbaceous and rich — not to mention a “love it or hate it” kind of wine. Lastly Prosecco typically has a lighter body and med-high acidity, along with of course lots of bubbles!
Something For Everyone
The Italian wine landscape is huge and would take many lifetimes to fully explore. However, we hope you’re able to take the time and have some fun sipping your way through the amazing offerings this great wine country has to offer. No matter what your tastes are, there will be something you love!