There are many things I love about Italy, the culture, the architecture, the food and of course, the wine.
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Italian wine is top DOCG
Italian wine is classified as DOC, or the more superior DOCG. This stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata (controlled designation of origin), the extra G stands for Garantita (guaranteed) and signifies a higher standard of quality. You can spot a DOCG wine from the government seal around the top.
My favourite Italian wine by region
North West Italy
Starting in Piedmont in the North West we find Barolo, produced from the Nebbiolo grape. This tannic red wine is rich and full bodied with high alcohol levels. It’s a powerful wine that is aged for at least 38 months, 18 of which must be in wood. When Barolo is aged for 5 years or more it can be labeled a Riserva.
Perfect with: meat dishes and rich risottos or pastas.
We then head across to the sparkling wine region of Lombardy, and more specifically the province of Brescia. Were you worried by the possible prosecco shortage announced earlier this year? Fear not, Franciacorta aka “Italian Champagne” is set to be your new favourite fizz. The production of this wine involves a second fermentation in the bottle – a method used for making champagne, so it’s considered more complex and higher quality than prosecco.
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North East Italy
Veneto produces a number of well known DOCG wines, including Prosecco and Soave, but we turn our attention to a vino rosso, Bardolino Superiore, made on the shores of Lake Garda. This is a light red wine made up of a variety of grapes, but predominantly Corvina and is a good all-rounder.
Perfect with: white meat, fish, or proscuitto and salami.
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Head down into central Italy and Tuscany and we’re in the home of some world famous wines including Chianti, but we’ll take a closer look at Brunello di Montalcino. I visited Montalcino when staying at Parco delle Piscine in Sarteano a few years back and Brunello was our staple holiday tipple. Made from the Sangiovese grape and aged in oak, Brunello di Montalcino is a fruity wine with hints of vanilla.
Perfect with: grilled steak or pappardelle with wild boar ragu.
Moving east from Tuscany and into the beautiful Marche region, you’ll find Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva, a dry white wine made from Verdicchio grapes. A wine I find more intriguing from this region though is Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, a red spumante (sparkling) produced from vineyards in the Apennines, available ‘secco’ (dry) or ‘dolce’ (sweet). Not since Lambrusco of the 1980’s had I come across a sparkling red wine, and the sweet version is quite a refreshing change from a heavier red when relaxing in the summer sun of the Sibillini mountains.
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South of Le Marche is Abbruzzo with just one DOCG classified wine: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Soft, yet earthy this wine is easy to drink with a soft tannic structure, so is a good choice if you’re drinking red wine without a food accompaniment.
Perfect with: a variety of dishes, complementing pork very well.
South West Italy
Head South West and you’re into Campania, home to a number of DOCG wines including Fiano di Avellino, a dry full bodied white named after the white Fiano grape, which must make up 85% of the grapes used.
Perfect with: pairs well with fish and chicken, thanks to its hints of hazelnut.
South East Italy
Our final destination is Puglia, where we take a look at their first wine to achieve DOCG status, Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale. This wine can only be made under certain climatic conditions using vine-dried Primitivo grapes and has a minimum alcohol level of 13%.
Are there other Italian wines you’ve enjoyed on holiday to Italy? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below…