Italian Wine For Dummies book cover

Italian Wine For Dummies

By: Mary Ewing-Mulligan and Ed McCarthy Published: 08-30-2001

"A must-have book for anyone who is serious about Italian wines."
—Lidia Bastianich, host of PBS?s Lidia's Italian Table

"I have yet to encounter more knowledgeable guides to...Italian wine."
—Piero Antinori, President, Antinori Wines

"Bravo to Ed and Mary! This book shows their love for Italy, the Italian producers, and the great marriage of local foods with local wines. Here is a great book that presents the information without intimidation."
—Piero Selvaggio, VALENTINO Restaurant

Right now, Italy is the most exciting wine country on earth. The quality of Italian wines has never been higher and the range of wines has never been broader. Even better, the types of Italian wines available outside of Italy have never been greater. But with all these new Italian wines and wine zones not to mention all the obscure grape varieties, complicate blends, strange names and restrictive wine laws. Italian wines are also about he most challenging of all to master. The time has come for comprehensive, up-to-date guides to Italian wines.

Authored by certified wine educators and authors Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan, Italian Wine For Dummies introduces you to the delectable world of fine Italian wine. It shows you how to:

  • Translate wine labels
  • Identify great wine bargains
  • Develop your own wine tastes
  • Match Italian wines with foods

Here's everything you need to know to enjoy the best Tuscans, Sicilians, Abruzzese and other delicious Italian wines. This lighthearted and informative guide explores:

  • The styles of wine made in Italy and the major grape varieties used to make them
  • How the Italian name their wines, the complicated laws governing how names are given and the meanings of common label terminology
  • Italy's important wine regions including a region-by-region survey of the best vineyards and their products
  • A guide to pronouncing Italian wine terms and names and how to order Italian wines in restaurants

For Italians, wine (vino) is food (alimentari) and food is love (amore). And you can never have enough love in your life. So, order a copy of Italian Wine For Dummies, today and get ready to share the love!

Articles From Italian Wine For Dummies

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Italian Wine For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-11-2022

To enjoy Italian wine, all you have to do is drink it. But if you want to get just a bit under the grape skin, you can explore the major varieties of Italian red and white wines, the grapes they're made from, and how to say their names.

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Exploring Wine: Italy's Top White-Grape Varieties

Article / Updated 06-06-2016

Seventeen white grape varieties compose Italy's major varieties for white or sparkling wine production. Following are five particularly key varieties in their rough order of importance. Trebbiano If any single factor is to blame for the lackluster quality of the white wine category in Italy, it is the Trebbiano grape. Trebbiano (trehb bee AH noh), known as Ugni Blanc in France, can make characterful white wines when it is grown carefully, but to a population that takes wine as casually as the Italians do, this variety is a cheap ticket to bland, neutral-tasting, light-bodied, crisp wines. Trebbiano is the most common white variety in Italy (in both senses of the word), grown almost everywhere but particularly prevalent in the central regions. It has several sub-varieties, or clones, of which Trebbiano Toscano is probably the most planted; other clones include Trebbiano di Romagna, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (which might actually be Bombino Bianco), Trebbiano Giallo, Trebbiano di Soave, and the relatively fine Procanico. In one manifestation or another, it's the backbone of numerous classic Italian white wines, such as Frascati. The main aroma and flavor descriptor of Trebbiano-based wines is "vinous" — a fancy way of saying that they smell and taste winey. These wines are usually dry and high in acid, but in recent years many producers seem to be making them with some sweetness, which to our taste eliminates their one virtue — their crisp, refreshing, food-friendly style — without improving the wines' quality one iota. Pinot Grigio Pinot Grigio (pee noh GREE joe) is the Italian name for the French variety Pinot Gris. Like other varieties of French origin, Pinot Gris immigrated to Northeastern Italy more than a century ago; its production has increased since the late 1970's, however, because its wines have found such commercial success. Because of high crop levels and popular taste in Italy, Pinot Grigio most often makes light-bodied, pale, high-acid wines; some producers make more characterful styles, with concentrated flavors of peach or mineral, but none as rich as Alsace Pinot Gris wines. The best Pinot Grigios come from Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Verdicchio Verdicchio (ver DEEK kee oh) excels in the Marche region, on the Adriatic coast. It has far more potential for flavor and character than Trebbiano does, making wines with medium body, crisp acidity, and aromas of lemon and sea air. It's used mainly for un-oaked wines that are variedly labeled. Vernaccia Two distinct white Italian varieties go by the name Vernaccia (ver NAHTCH cha), one in Tuscany and the other in Sardinia. (There's also a red Vernaccia from Marche!) The Tuscan Vernaccia is the finer of the two whites. Although its wines have the trademark Italian high acidity and light to medium body, the best examples show depth and character, with mineral nuances. Vernaccia usually makes un-oaked wines, but can sometimes age quite nicely in oak barrels. Tocai Friulano While Pinot Grigio gets the lion's share of attention, many fans of Friulian wines favor the Tocai Friulano (toh KYE free oo LAH no) grape — and this variety is the most widely planted white variety in Friuli. Tocai makes light- to medium-bodied wines with crisp acidity; the best of them have a rich, viscous texture and are more flavorful than the Italian norm. Some experts believe Tocai to be Sauvignon Vert, a variety that often passes for Sauvignon Blanc in Chile, although Italy's Tocais are quite different from Chile's Sauvignons. Whatever the variety actually is, it will soon go under a different name, yet to be determined: The European Union has required producers to desist from using the name Tocai by 2007, to avoid confusion with Hungary's classic wine zone, Tokaji. Other important white varieties Twelve white varieties are also quite important in Italy; here they are in alphabetical order: Arneis (ahr NASE): This old, Piedmontese variety is newly popular in the wine zones around the city of Alba. It is low in acidity and fairly flavorful, making soft and round wines with notes of melon, almonds, and flowers. Chardonnay (shar doh nay):In the late 1970s, winemakers in northeastern Italy "discovered" that they had Chardonnay in their vineyards (misidentified as Pinot Blanc) and began making Chardonnay wines. In more recent times, Chardonnay has become popular all over Italy, from Piedmont to Sicily, as winemakers try their hand at making world-class white wine with a world-class grape. In general, the Italian versions are leaner and crisper than the Chardonnay norm, and many don't have enough fruit character to sustain their oak aging. Cortese (cor TAE sae):Grown in various parts of northern Italy, but a specialty of Piedmont's Gavi zone, Cortese makes crisp, light-bodied wines with citrus and appley flavors; the best have mineral character and even notes of honey. Fiano (fee AH no): A perfumed and flavorful variety that's probably the finest white variety of Southern Italy, grown mainly in Campania. Its wines are medium-bodied and capable of aging, developing aromatic richness as they do. Garganega (gar GAH nae ga): The main variety of Soave, this is one of Italy's unsung native white grapes that's finally earning respect. Producers such as Pieropan have proved that it's capable of making rich, unctuous wines with character and class. Greco (GRAE co): Grown throughout Italy's South, this fine variety makes crisp, fairly aromatic (citrusy, floral) wines that have good weight, viscosity, and character. Malvasia (mahl vah SEE ah):This variety grows throughout Italy. Several white sub-varieties exist, including the better Malvasia Toscana, the ancient and flavorful Malvasia Istriana, and the weaker Malvasia di Candia. It's often paired with Trebbiano, to lend wines a bit of richness, but it has the downside of oxidizing easily. Malvasia produces innocuous whites as well as the rich Vin Santo. A red Malvasia, called Malvasia Nera, also exists. Moscato (moh SKAH toh):The Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains grows all over Italy, making all sorts of wines, from delicate Moscato d'Asti to rich dessert styles; its most famous version is the sparkling wine, Asti. The floral, perfumed notes that Moscato attains in the North are among the most finesseful expressions of this variety anywhere in the world. The golden and red types of Moscato are also used to make certain Italian wines. Another Muscat, Muscat of Alexandria or "Zibibbo," makes some of Southern Italy's dessert wines. Pinot Bianco (pee noh bee AHN coh):Known as Pinot Blanc in France, this variety has grown in Northeastern Italy for more than a century. In Alto Adige, its wines attain a character and richness unknown from this variety elsewhere in the world. Riesling Renano (REES ling rea NAH noh): "Renano" means "Rhine," and this name represents the classic Riesling grape, which grows throughout Northeastern Italy. (Riesling Italico is Welschriesling, a different variety.) Sauvignon (soh vee n'yahn):Italians call the Sauvignon Blanc variety only by its first name; it grows throughout the Northeast, where it makes herbal, intensely flavorful wines; some growers are cultivating it in less traditional areas, such as Piedmont and Tuscany, to make internationally styled wines. Vermentino (ver men TEE noh):This variety is at home in Sardinia, Liguria, and coastal Tuscany, where it makes crisp, light- or medium-bodied wines. It has solid potential for fine wines.

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Discover Italian Wines: The Top Red-Grape Varieties

Article / Updated 06-06-2016

Twenty-one red grape varieties compose Italy's major varieties for red wine. Four of these are especially important, either for the quality of wine they produce or for their dissemination throughout the country. Explore this "fab four" of Italian red wine and discover a new favorite. Sangiovese The indigenous Sangiovese (san joe VAE sae) is the most planted red variety in Italy's vineyards. It's the lifeblood of red wine production in the central Italian regions of Tuscany and Umbria; it also grows in several other regions. It is the major grape of Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and the only variety in Brunello di Montalcino; many critically acclaimed Super-Tuscan wines also derive largely from Sangiovese. (Super-Tuscans are expensive wines with proprietary and often fanciful names and heavy bottles.) Common blending partners for Sangiovese include the native Canaiolo (can eye OH lo) grape, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Dozens of clones, or subvarieties, of Sangiovese exist, some finer than others. (This variety changes in response to its grapegrowing environment, which accounts for its diversity.) One family, of clones responsible for many of the best Sangiovese wines is called Sangiovese Grosso ("large Sangiovese"). Some Tuscan producers call Sangiovese Grosso "Sangioveto," but this is not an official name. The characteristics of Sangiovese include only a medium intensity of color, high acidity, firm tannin, and aromas and flavors of cherries and herbs. Most wines made from Sangiovese are lean in structure; they're generally medium-bodied, but some are light-bodied or full-bodied, depending on where the grapes grow. The more serious wines based on Sangiovese are capable of developing forest-floor aromas and a seductive smoothness and harmony with age. Nebbiolo The Nebbiolo (nehb be OH loh) variety is a specialty of the Piedmont region. This native Italian grape makes two of Italy's very greatest red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as several less exalted wines. Nebbiolo produces full-bodied, characterful wines that are high in acid and have marked tannin, but generally have only medium color intensity. Nebbiolo's aromas and flavors vary according to the vineyard site, but cover a wide spectrum, from fruity (strawberry) to herbal (mint, camphor, and anise) to earthy (mushrooms, white truffles, and tar) to floral; these aromas can be very vivid and pure. The finest Nebbiolo-based wines take many years to develop and can live for decades; many approachable, young-drinking wines from Nebbiolo also exist. Nebbiolo is usually not blended with other varieties; when it is, Barbera and Bonarda are predictable partners. Barbera Until Sangiovese dethroned Barbera sometime in the past 20 years, Barbera (bar BAE rah) was the most planted red variety in all of Italy. It still grows in many parts of the Italian peninsula, but its finest wines come from Piedmont, Barbera's home turf. Barbera is a very unusual red variety because it has almost no tannin. It does have deep color and high acidity, as well as spicy and red-fruit aromas and flavors that are vivid in young wines. The combination of high acid, low tannin, and vivid flavor make Barbera wines particularly refreshing. The finest expressions of Barbera are unblended, but many blended wines containing Barbera do exist. Aglianico This unsung native variety is the pride of the Campania and Basilicata regions, in Southern Italy, where it makes Taurasi and Aglianico del Vulture (ahl YAHN ee co del VUL too rae), respectively. Aglianico came to Southern Italy from Greece millennia ago, and today grows as far north as Lazio; in the South, it also grows in Molise, Puglia, and Calabria. At its best, Aglianico makes dark, powerful red wines of high quality. But its production is relatively small, and in many cases the variety is merely part of a blend with other southern varieties. Nevertheless, it is one of Italy's finest red varieties, and has excellent potential. Other important red varieties The following 17 red varieties are also quite important in Italy. Here they are in alphabetical order: Cabernet Franc (cab er nay frahnc): This French variety has grown in Italy's northeastern regions for more than a century; today, its use is declining somewhat in favor of Cabernet Sauvignon (with which it is often blended) Cabernet Sauvignon (cab er nay soh vee n'yon):Some Italian wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon show the dark color, firm tannin, and blackcurrant flavors typical of the variety, but many others are lighter in color, body, and tannin, and have vegetal flavors — all indicative of high crop yields and under-ripe grapes. Cannonau (cahn nah NOW):This Sardinian variety is actually Grenache (as it's known in France) or Garnacha (as it's known in its native Spain). In Sardinia, it's the island's main red variety, making light- and/or full-bodied wines as well as rosés. Corvina (cor VEE nah):Most Corvina-based wines have light to medium body, high acidity, medium tannin, and flavors of red cherries. It has great potential as a stand-alone variety for fine wine. Dolcetto (dohl CHET toh): A variety that's quite important in Piedmont, where it's valued not only for its deep color and spicy, berry character, but also for its early-ripening tendency. Lagrein (lah GRYNE):Technically Lagrein Scuro, or Lagrein Dunkel (dark Lagrein),an historic variety in Alto Adige, where it makes perfumed, medium-bodied reds and light roses, as well as some rich, dark, characterful red wines. Lesser clones of Lagrein also exist. Lambrusco (lam BREWS coh):An ancient, native variety that's critical to the health of the wine economy in Emilia-Romagna, thanks to the success of Lambrusco wines in the U.S. This grape has delicious flavors of red fruits and spice, medium tannin, and fairly high acidity. Merlot (mair loh):In Italy, this variety typically makes medium-bodied wines, at best, with medium color intensity and flavors that are vegetal and herbal (symptomatic of overly high crop yields or inappropriately cool climates). Montepulciano (mon tae pull chee AH noh):It produces medium-bodied wines with unusual smoky, red-fruity, and vegetal flavors; these wines range from seriously good to quaffable in quality. Negroamaro (NAE grow ah MAH roh):Literally, "black and bitter,"a native variety that's widely planted in the South, especially Puglia; it makes flavorful, high-alcohol wines. Nero d'Avola (NAE roh DAHV oh lah): This high quality variety — known as Calabrese in its native Calabria — is important mainly in Sicily. It makes deeply colored, age-worthy wines that are full-bodied and moderate in tannin, with heady flavors of ripe fruit and herbs. Pinot Nero (pee noh NAIR oh):This variety is significant throughout northeastern Italy and in Lombardy, in the Northwest, for both still and sparkling wines. Because it's one of the world's major red varieties, winemakers in various other regions, including Piedmont and Tuscany, are trying their hands with it. Primitivo (prim ih TEE voh):Primitivo makes deeply colored wines with spicy, ripe berry character, full body, and high alcohol. Refosco (reh FOES coh): A specialty of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, this variety makes velvety-textured, medium- and full-bodied wines with ripe plum flavors — many of which are quite good. Sagrantino (sag rahn TEE noh):This variety is fairly limited in its production zone, but is responsible for the dark, intense, ageworthy red called Montefalco Sagrantino, from Umbria. Schiava (skee AH vah):The most common variety in Alto Adige, where it generally makes light- to medium-bodied, easy-drinking red wines. German-speaking locals call it Vernatsch. Several sub-varieties exist. Teroldego (teh ROHL dae go):A major, native variety in the Trentino sub-region, in northern Italy, where it produces fresh-tasting, fruity reds with good color; similar to Lagrein.

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Debunking Italian Wine Myths

Article / Updated 06-06-2016

Sometimes ideas or stories take on lives of their own, and innocent Italian-wine lovers become unwitting believers in what are the wine equivalent of urban legends. Here are some examples of those myths — and the real story, to set you straight. Chianti is an inexpensive, commercial wine Some very fine Chianti wines have always existed, but — in the days of straw-covered flasks — they used to represent a tiny minority of all Chianti. Now the red-checkered-tableclothed tables have turned, and the majority of Chianti wines (at least in major export markets such as the U.S.) are high quality wines. Chianti Classico, the type of Chianti most commonly found outside of Italy, is particularly fine. Prices have risen with the quality, and now you can easily find $25 and $30 bottles of Chianti Classico in good wine shops. Inexpensive, $10 bottles of Chianti do still exist — including some in the nostalgic straw packaging — but the category as a whole has moved uptown. Italian wines should be enjoyed with Italian food Any time you drink the wine of a particular wine region with the food of the same region, the combination is apt and harmonious. In the case of Italian food, no wines taste better than Italian wines — even if you drink a lusty wine of the South with a dish that's typical of a northern region. But Italy's wines are so incredibly food-friendly that their pairing talent extends far beyond la cucina italiana. The crisp acidity of Italy's white wines cuts through the richness of classic French dishes, and the tanginess of many reds provides thirst-quenching relief with Tex-Mex. Italian wines are the most food-friendly on earth. Pinot Grigio is one of Italy's best wines The average quality of Pinot Grigio wines is . . . well, average. They're dry and refreshing, they don't clash with most foods, and they're perfectly fine if you want an inexpensive wine — but they lack the character and intensity that the French Pinot Gris grape (in Italy, Pinot Grigio) is capable of, and they are not Italy's answer to great white wine. Naturally, a few exceptions exist. Italy's best wines are all red An understandable misunderstanding. After all, Italy makes about twice as much red wine as white wine, and most of Italy's most famous wines — Chianti, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and so forth — are red. (In fact, the statement might even have been true 30 years ago.) But certain parts of Italy definitely have what it takes to make fine white wines, and producers in those areas are doing just that. The region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia makes many excellent white wines, as does Alto Adige. Campania has two terrific whites, Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo. Piedmont and Tuscany — the red wine capitals of Italy — even make some fine whites, such as Gavi, Arneis, and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. And some traditional Italian white wines, such as Soave, Verdicchio, and Vermentino, are now better than ever. Marsala is cooking wine The producers of Marsala, Italy's famous fortified wine have tightened production regulations for their wine and upgraded quality. The ridiculous, flavored Marsalas no longer exist, and the top wines — the Vergine and Soleras styles — are now regaining their rightful place among the world's classic aperitif wines. The lower tiers of Marsala might still be more appropriate for cooking than sipping — depending on the brand, the cook, and the sipper — but the category as a whole is more genuine than it has been in recent history, and will probably improve further. (After all, Palermo wasn't built in a day.) White Italian wines all taste alike Add a few words to that statement, and it is true: (Inexpensive, mass-market) white Italian wines all taste (pretty much) alike. They're light-bodied, un-oaked, dryish, crisp, and not particularly flavorful. But Italy does have some very distinctive white wines: Tocai Friuliano, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Gavi, Fiano di Avellino, Moscato d'Asti, Alto Adige Sauvignon, and Vermentino di Gallura, to name a few. Italy also makes some white wines that are manifestly un-Italian in style — oaky Chardonnays, for example. Once you leave the mass-market segment, you can find variety among Italy's whites. Spumante is sweet The word spumante means "sparkling" — just that. Because Asti Spumante (the sweet, sparkling wine of Asti) is so famous, however, wineries in California and Italy have borrowed the term spumante for sweet bubblies that imitate Asti, and millions of people now think that the word applies only to sweet, sparkling wines. The connotation of sweetness is so strong, in fact, that Italy's best dry sparkling wines, such as Franciacorta, don't use the word spumante. And you rarely see the word even on bottles of Asti these days, because producers of this classic want to distance themselves from their imitators. Soave and Valpolicella are low-quality wines Soave, a white wine, and Valpolicella, a red wine — along with their red companion wine from the Verona area, Bardolino — have received a bad rep in the U.S. and elsewhere. Not that it wasn't somewhat deserved: Many bottles of these wines are mass-produced, unexciting stuff. But all three of these wines can be delightful, if you seek out a good producer, and you are willing to pay a few dollars more than normal. Try a Gini or Pieropan Soave, for example, an Allegrini Valpolicella, or a Guerrieri-Rizzardi Bardolino, and you discover that these wines have character and charm in the hands of a quality-conscious producer. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are made from the same grape The confusion is understandable, but these two wines are definitely different wines made from different grape varieties. Vino Nobile is a dry red wine made primarily from the Prugnolo Gentile variety (a type of Sangiovese) around the town of Montepulciano in southeastern Tuscany. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is also a dry red wine, but made mainly from the Montepulciano variety, which grows in the region of Abruzzo on the Adriatic coast, southeast of Tuscany. The Montepulciano variety is believed to be native to the Abruzzo region, and it has no connection to Sangiovese or to the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany.

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Major Italian Red Wines

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Italian red wines bring up the image of grape-stomping parties that provide fun for the whole village. Fortunately, you don't have to press the grapes yourself to enjoy a bottle of good Italian red wine. The major reds are described in the following list: Amarone: Lusty, full-bodied wine from partially-dried Corvina grapes, in the Veneto region. Dry and firm wine, but its ripe, concentrated fruitiness suggests sweetness. Needs rich, savory foods or flavorful cheeses. Barbaresco: Similar to Barolo, from the same grape in a nearby area, but generally a tad lighter in body and slightly more approachable. Drinks best at 8 to 15 years of age, depending on the producer. Barbera: Varietal wine produced mainly in the Piedmont region. Dry, light- or medium-bodied, with intense berry flavor, mouth-watering acidity, and little tannin. Particularly versatile with food. Many of the best wines are from the Alba or Asti zones. Barolo: Dry, full-bodied, magisterial wine from Nebbiolo grapes in the Barolo area of Piedmont. Has complex aromas and flavors of strawberries, tar, herbs, and earth, as well as a firm, tannic structure. Drinks best at 10 to 20 years of age, depending on the producer. Brunello di Montalcino: Full-bodied, intense, concentrated wine from Sangiovese grapes grown in the Montalcino zone of Tuscany. Dry and quite tannic, it drinks best when it's at least 15 years old. Chianti: Very dry, medium-bodied, moderately tannic wine with lovely tart-cherry flavor, mainly from Sangiovese grapes grown in the Chianti area of Tuscany. "Chianti Classico" is often the best. Some wines are good young; wines labeled riserva, and pricier wines, are generally more concentrated and age-worthy. Lambrusco: Most commonly a sweet, fizzy wine with delicious, grapey flavors. Made from Lambrusco grapes usually in the Emilia-Romagna region. Dry and sparkling styles also exist. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: Generally medium-bodied and flavorful with red fruits and a slightly vegetal note. Lighter examples are smooth and easy to drink; the best wines are concentrated and denser in texture. From the Montepulciano grape, in the Abruzzo region. Salice Salentino: Dry, full-bodied wine from Negroamaro grapes in part of the Puglia region. Generally has somewhat intense aromas and flavors of ripe, plummy, baked fruit, and rich, dense texture. Suitable with robust foods. Valpolicella: Medium-bodied wine mainly from Corvina grapes in the Valpolicella area of Veneto region. Dry, lean, and only moderately tannic, with more or less intense cherry aromas and flavors. Some versions, such as single-vineyard wines, are particularly good. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: Medium-bodied, dry, and lean, with red cherry flavor, similar to Chianti but slightly fuller. Made from Sangiovese grapes in Montepulciano, in the Tuscany region.

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Italian Wine Grapes

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Sometimes you know the name of the grape used to produce the nice Italian wine you're drinking because the name of the grape and the name of the wine are the same. But that's not always the case, so if you want to match the Italian wine to the principal grape (or grapes) used to make it, consult the following table: Wine Type Color Principal Grape(s) Wine Type Color Principal Grape(s) Amarone Red Corvina, others Lambrusco Red Lambrusco Barbaresco Red Nebbiolo Montepulciano Red Montepulciano Barbera d'Alba Red Barbera Orvieto White Grechetto, others Bardolino Red Corvina, Rondinella, others Soave White Garganega, others Barolo Red Nebbiolo Taurasi Red Aglianico Brunello Red Sangiovese Valpolicella Red Corvina, Rondinella, others Chianti Red Sangiovese, others Verdicchio White Verdicchio Dolcetto d'Alba Red Dolcetto Vernaccia White Vernaccia Gavi White Cortese Vino Nobile Red Prugnolo (Sangiovese)

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Major Italian White Wines

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Italian white wines come in varieties that run from sparkling and sweet to smooth and fruity to crisp and dry. The following list describes each of the major Italian white whites: Asti: Sparkling wine made from Moscato grapes around Asti, in Piedmont. Deliciously sweet, low in alcohol, with pronounced fruity and floral flavors. Usually non-vintage, but freshness and youth are essential to its quality. Frascati: From the Frascati area, south of Rome, and mainly Trebbiano grapes. Dry or slightly off-dry, light-bodied, and un-oaked with crisp acidity and subdued flavor. Gavi: Dry, medium-bodied wine from Cortese grapes in the Gavi area of Piedmont. Typically crisp and un-oaked (sometimes slightly oaky) with delicate notes of honey, apples, and minerals. Orvieto: A generally medium-bodied wine made mainly from Grechetto grapes around Orvieto, in the Umbria region. Dry, crisp, with flavors of pear and apple and a pleasantly bitter finish. Pinot Grigio: Generally light-bodied, dry, and crisp, with subdued aromas and flavors and no oakiness. Made from Pinot Gris grapes, usually in Northeastern Italy. Wines from Collio or Alto-Adige DOCs (controlled origin denomination) are usually the best. Soave: From the Soave zone in the Veneto region, made mainly from Garganega grapes. Generally dry, crisp, un-oaked, and light- or medium-bodied, with subdued flavors of pear, apple, or peach. Verdicchio: Dry, medium-bodied, crisp white with minerally flavor and a sea-air freshness. From Verdicchio grapes in the Marche region.

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Pronunciation Guide to Italian Wine Names

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

To fully enjoy your Italian wine-drinking experience, practice with the following pronunciation guide — the syllable in all CAPS is the one to accent. Soon, you'll be speaking Italian like a true wine lover. Amarone: ah mah RO nae Brunello di Montalcino: brew NEL lo dee mahn tahl CHEE no Chianti Classico: key AHN tee CLAHS see co Dolcetto: dohl CHET toh Frascati: frah SKAH tee Lacryma Christi: LAH cree mah CHREE stee Montepulciano: mon tae pull chee AH noh Moscato d'Asti: mo SCAH toh DAHS tee Pinot Grigio: pee noh GREE joe Rosso Cònero: ROHS so COH neh ro Salice Salentino: SAH lee chae sah len TEE no Soave: so AH vae Taurasi: touw RAH see Verdicchio: ver DEE key oh Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: VEE no NO bee lae dee mahn tae pool chee AH no

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