Let me say this straight away – I love everything Italian, especially a great wine list, great food, great people, and most important of all, fabulous wine. Not only does Italy make some of the greatest wines in the world, historically they have also helped to spread wine around the world.
Good Italian wines are flooding into the country, whereas 20 years ago you would have been lucky to find the odd bottle of cheap Chianti in an Italian restaurant, now serious Italian wines with real personality, and most importantly for every budget, are everywhere.
And that is the great thing about Italian wines, they have great charm and character, and you don't have to pay the earth. While an Italian wine may not have the impact of a full bodied Shiraz from the Barossa Valley, it compensates nicely with a tonne of rich savoury fruit flavours and diversity.
Of course when matching to food, you can’t go past a great Italian wine to go with a nice bowl of spaghetti or dish of lasagne.
If you want to start getting into Italian wine, try your local independent wine shop or one of the many Dan Murphy's or Vintage Cellars and hopefully they can help out. But here are a few tips to start:
Italian wines are normally labelled after regions rather than grapes. For example Chianti is a region is Tuscany that makes red wine largely from the Sangiovese grape.
Italian wines often don't have as much oak and fruit flavour as the local drop so what you are tasting is just the grape variety and where the wine has come from. The white wines are normally quite delicate in flavour while the reds are often savoury and rustic.
A great wine list should have wines from these Italian regions: Brunello di Montalcno, Primitivo di Manduria, Sagrantino di Montefalco, Sicily, Barolo, Barbaresco, Valpolicella Classico, Soave Classico, Alto Adige, Collio and Chianti Classico.
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