Italian wines: From vineyard to table
Holding the title of world’s largest producer of wines, Italy continues to impress as it accounts for more than 50 per cent of the global market volume, so it comes as no surprise that their collection of wines are wonderfully diverse and increasingly popular.
From exquisite reds to delicate whites, Italy offers an array of varietals that are full-bodied and bold. Over the years, Italian wines have gained notoriety for the depth of flavour and the high level of quality that they continuously achieve.
Due to the viticultural diversity, choosing the best wine can be rather challenging. However, once you have knowledge of the wine’s location, complexity and balance, buying the best Italian wine is an effortless task.
Choosing the best locations
One of the reasons why Italy produces more wine than any other country is down to the fact that it can grow high-quality grapes almost anywhere across its regions.
A true wine lover will know that the process begins with the perfect soil composition. In Italy, each region showcases its very own microclimate and rich geological history, which is why the Italian soil is considered to be impressively rich.
Perhaps one of the world’s most renowned Italian wine regions, Prosecco features small hills that are home to the glare grape. Here, you will find the magic that produces the superb sparkling wine that is beloved across the world.
Not only is its rolling hills a sight to behold, but the west-central province of Tuscany is equally iconic for its popular production of red wines. The region of Tuscany expertly produces Sauvignon and Merlots — staple favourites across the world.
Among the wide array of Tuscan wines, you should buy Sassicaia, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious wines produced in Italy and a staple favourite across the world.
Equally growing in popularity, the Franciacorta region produces a world-famous sparkling wine using the champagne-making method — varieties such as Berlucchi, Ca’ del Bosco and Bellavista have become some of the most famous wines across this region.
Piedmont’s Langhe and Montferrat posses ancient soils that produce an exquisite variety of full-bodied red wines, such as Barolo and Barbaresco, a wide range of perfumed wines like Barbera and Grignolino and several excellent whites like Gavi and Arneis.
The perfect flavours
Having produced wines for more than 3,000 years, Italy has developed perfect tastes for any occasion, but the range of flavours can make the process of finding the perfect one rather difficult.
Whether you are searching for a new favourite, a gift or for a special occasion, there are three elements that you need to consider: complexity, balance and intensity. Remember that finding the perfect wine varies greatly on personal taste — some prefer sweeter notes whilst others enjoy more bitter flavours.
When trying to choose the best wine for your occasion, take note of the flavours that have been blended with the wine. A flavoursome wine should have complexity, which is achieved by combining a variety of different notes, characteristics and distinguishable flavours — the more flavours you can taste, the more complex the wine will be.
The more intense it is, the clearer it will be to distinguish the flavours that are present. A great Chianti or Sassicaia will have intense flavours that will undoubtedly have a more recognisable taste and will be easier to appreciate.
Simply savour to see whether the complex flavours are indeed notable. If the flavours are intense and very distinguishable, then the wine will be of high quality and you can relax and enjoy a glass — or two.
Wines that have a vast range of components, introduced to a level where it is notable and producing a harmonic relationship between tastes, are undeniably exquisite. If a wine is in balance, none of the components — acidity, tannin, alcohol or fruit — will stand out as the main event.
Similarly, take note of the length and finish. Any great wine will have a taste that stays in your palate — analyse how long it lingers on your palate and if you are tasting several of the aforementioned characteristics for 10 seconds or more, then you have a high-quality Italian wine.
Serving it well
There is no doubt about it — Italian food and wine are supposed to be paired together for optimal enjoyment.
The combination of an aged wine with rich, herbed-infused cuisine is simply too divine to pass and a way to remember perfect pairings is to note that whatever grows together goes together — if it’s grown and prepared in the same geographical location, then it will pair beautifully. Similarly, match according to richness and texture.
White wines, such as Arneis, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon, will go beautifully with steamed and poached meals, as well as seafood, risottos, pasta dishes and soft-creamy cheeses. Light and medium-bodied reds will pair wonderfully with meats like chicken, beef, pork ad duck.
If you have a deliciously full-bodied wine, such as Barbaresco, Barolo, Chianti or Sassicaia, then combine the flavours with comforting meals like roasts, game meats, as well as hard cheeses.
Remember to balance your tastes, like salty and sour foods can make your wine seem milder, whereas sweeter and savoury tasting meals will cause your wine to become stronger — choose carefully and enjoy the taste of your exquisite Italian wine.