Wine is massively important for Italy. The country is said to be the second largest wine producer in the world and boasts a myriad of winemaking regions, each producing a diverse array of wines. With reports of 900,000 registered vineyards (enough for one vineyard for every seven people) and more native grapes than any other wine country, any newcomer to the wine-world would be forgiven for getting a little overwhelmed when choosing Italian wine. But don’t let that turn you off. In this article we examine the key Italian wine making regions, to help you get started.
The North West of Italy is made up of four key regions, Piemonte, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy and Liguria. Piemonte is arguably the most important region when it comes to Italian wine production. The best-known wines come from Barolo and Barbaresco. These are full-bodied, Italian red wines, both of which are made from the Nebbiolo grape. Barolo, in particular, is a wine that takes well to ageing. Still in Piemonte, you will come across cheaper red wines made from the Barbera and Dolcetto grapes. If you prefer white wine, look out for the Cortese grape from Gavi, or Asti, an off-dry sparkling Italian wine made from Muscat. From Valle d’Aosta you will come across a number of indigenous grapes, including Petit Rouge and Picotendro, a local version of the Nebbiolo grape.
In the North East, the key Italian wine making region is Veneto. Here you will come across Valpolicella, which is home to range of red wines that vary quite considerably in style from light, everyday drinking wines through to fuller bodied wines. These are made from a blend of grapes but principally Corvina. Also from Veneto comes Prosecco. This dry sparkling Italian wine is often goes down well with drinkers looking for an alternative to Champagne. Neighbouring Soave, also situated in the North East, produces a nice Italian white wine made from the Garganega and Trebbiano grapes.
The largest and most significant Italian wine producing area is central Italy is Tuscany. Chianti is the main export from this region and produces a medium bodied red blend, made predominantly from the Sangiovese grape. Outside of this area but still in Tuscany are Montalcino and Montepulciano, which also produce Italian red wines from the Sangiovese grape.
Staying in central Italy, you will come across the well-known Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna, Frascati from Latium and the Verdicchio grape, a medium bodied dry Italian white wine, from the region with the same name.
The quantity, and arguably the quality, of Italian wines produced in the south have increased in recent years. Typically the region produces red wines which are deep, rich, intense and offer good value for money. Puglia, in particular, offers some wines of interest. Sicily also produces some high quality wines from international grape varieties, as well as the fortified wine Marsala.
This is just a brief introduction to the wines from this country.
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Louise Truswell works in the wine industry. She has been writing about wine for couple of years and likes writing about Italian wine. To find out more about Italian wine and to stock up, visit www.virginwines.com
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