Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Wine 101: Italian Wines

3 Italian wines I have yet to try! Stay tuned for a review of them!

Welcome to another week of Wine Wednesday! This week, I'm going to introduce you to some of my favorite wines in the world- Italian wines. Similar to French wines, Italian wines can be difficult to learn about and understand because of a slightly confusing labeling system. In Italy, there are 20 wine regions, over 330 DOCs (similar to the French wine appellations), and over 350 common grape varieties. With all of this, Italian wines can certainly be confusing!

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As always, when looking at a map like this you can think about the climate of various areas and how grapes would be grown in order to think about the flavors you will taste in red or white wines. However, to break it down simply, the 3 major regions that produce high quality wines are Veneto, Tuscany, and Piedmont.

Veneto Wines: When trying Veneto wines, look for red wines and a rich white called Soave. Red wines will be rich and medium to full bodied with darker flavors. Red blends and merlot-based wines are popular in Veneto. White wines, especially Soave, will be full-bodied and similar to a chardonnay.

Tuscany: Tuscany is home to the Chianti region which is most famous for Sangiovese wines. Conversely, Tuscany is also home to 'Super Tuscan' wines, which are made from cabernet and merlot grapes grown in the area. For white wines, Tuscany is most known for a sweet wine called Vin Santo, or Trebbiano which may be similar to a sauvignon blanc.

Piedmont: Red wines from Piedmont such as Nebbiolo will have high tannins and bright colors. Nebbiolo grapes also produce big, full-bodied wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco (named for the towns the grape is grown near). For white wines, try Moscato d'Asti, a sparkling white often made with champagne standards.

If you are looking at an Italian wine list and trying to decide which to order, it is important to know several things. The first item listed will be the producer of the wine (who makes it). The second item listed will be the wine type, which can be what type of grape variety, regional style, or a blend. The third item listed will be the region of where the wine is from, and the fourth and final item listed will be the vintage, or what year the wine was produced in.

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