Previously I wrote about my love for Pinot Noir, so when considering which country to talk about this week, the obvious choice would be France, or more accurately Burgundy. If not France, maybe New Zealand, the birthplace of my favourite wine, but it came down to one country that stood head and shoulders above the rest for me, and that country is Italy!
When you think of Italy, many images will pop into your mind. Pasta is the obvious one, espresso sipping in the quaintest Trattoria, gladiators battling in the oldest coliseums perhaps, but wine would definitely be right at the top of that list. Italy is famed for its production of Pinot Grigio and Dr Lecters favourite Chianti. However there is so much more to Italian wine than these two A-list celebrities.
It’s true that Chianti takes a lot of the glory, a perfect partner to rich pasta and roasted vegetable dishes. However if you want to try something different, how about a Montepulciano, a delicious grape that’s as fun to drink as it is to say. Or perhaps a black cherry, prune noted Barbera. Italy has so many different unique native grapes, tasting your way through this country would be anything but a snooze fest. You also get to cook up all these Italian food masterpieces to partner the wine.
The climate and altitude vary significantly in Italy, but the general rule is you’ll find lighter wines in the north and richer fuller wines in the south, in regions like Sicily. If you live in the heart of Tuscany you’ll enjoy bigger reds like Chianti to go with those roasted vegetable dishes, but if you reside on the coast, you’ll be more used to whites such as Soave that partner freshly caught fish so perfectly.
If you spot a cockerel on a bottle of Italian Chianti, it should indicate that the wine is of very high quality. The cockerel signifies that the winemaker is a member of the Gallo Consortium, and as members of the consortium they have to pass very strict taste tests, meaning you can buy with confidence.
Italian wine is really a world of its own, so head over to our WineZone page dedicated to Italy to find out a little more on the regions, classification systems and just some of the wines that you can try. Or you can search our website to find some Italian treats. I highly recommend the Il Cascinone Rive Barbera 2011, there is a reason it has a 4.6/5 star rating on our website.