An Introduction to the Different Types of Italian Wines

Mock me if you will, but it wasn’t too long ago that my knowledge of wine was firmly entrenched in the simplistic categories of red, white, and zinfandel. Luckily, I slowly wandered beyond those boundaries, exploring the many subtleties of cabernet, merlot, chardonnay, chianti, and more.

The world is filled with all manner of distinctive wines, whose names, tastes, and styles differ greatly, according to the various regions where some of the best wines in the world are created.

Wines that hail from Italy are usually labeled after the area where the grapes are grown and the wine is produced. Nothing is more wholeheartedly satisfying than the winning combination of a fine Italian coupled with an equally fine Italian wine. Not to be relegated to Italian food alone, the bountiful flavors inherent in Italian wines make them excellent pairings for almost meal.

Exploring the rich tastes of Italian red wines, you will find that Barbaresco Red wines are light, fruity, and warm, and are wonderful accompaniments to spicy, hearty foods, and roasted meats. But for those who desire something a bit heavier, try a Barolo wine. Made from the nebbiolo grape, as is its close cousin the Barbaresco, Barolo wines are quite similar in flavor yet more robust, and possess a higher alcohol content. Barbaresco wines are best aged for two years, Barolo for three, achieving maximum perfection.

Known the world over, increasingly popular and superbly divine, Chianti is delicious in its simplicity. Made primarily from Sangiovese grapes, Chianti is best with any Italian meal. However, the light-bodied red wine is am excellent pairing with any roasted meat, and similarly spicy foods or meals doused with mild to intense flavor.

Valpolicella, a hilly area located in the province of Verona, is famous for its wines of the same name. Valpolicella is a light red wine, fruity yet modestly bold, and is again a welcome companion with any Italian meal, or lighter fare.

Italian white wines are touched by subtle hints of lemon and fruit. Crisp and light, Italian whites go best with seafood and salads.

Pinot Grigio, finding sudden fame in the wine enthusiast movie “Sideways”, is a full-bodied wine made from the Pinot Gris grape. A simple, fine wine, it easily compliments light meals and fried fish. Very appealing with a fine balance, Pinot Grigio is also popular as a cocktail wine.

Orvieto is also a fine pairing with all manner of seafood. Made from the Trebbiano grape, Orvieto is medium-bodied, dry white, and thoroughly enjoyable. Its bouquet of mellow flavors and slightly bitter aftertaste also makes it a suitable pairing with soups, cheeses, and poultry.

Another wine also produced from the Trebbiano grape is Frascati. Very well known with wine enthusiasts, the region of Frascati, “The City of Wine”, produces fantastic wines that are dry and medium bodied, and taste lovely when paired with a nice plate of fish or similar light meals. Delicate, with a crisp, clean finish, Frascati wines can also be paired with modestly spicier fare.

Soave is a crisp with fruity flavors. Hailing from the Veneto wine region, Soave wines are deliciously simple and light; drink this wine with light meals and fish.

Of course, these descriptions merely touch upon and hint at the full experience that awaits you as you embark upon your own adventure into the flavorful realm of Italian wines. A righteous first step down the path would be to sample a Chianti and a Frascati. Any wine and liquor store will have ample supply of several varieties, and should be able to suggest a bottle or two.

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