Everything You Needed To Know About Italian Wines, But Were Afraid To Ask

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Wines

When it comes to wine, most Irish people might not be equipped with a great deal of technical knowledge – but you can be damn sure they know what they like. And after last night's match I have a feeling Italian wine is about to become very popular.

Italian wine can be a bit of a maze of similar-sounding names, unfamiliar-sounding terms and strange-sounding science.

But really, it's not that complicated – so here's a whistle-stop tour of some of the most popular Italian destinations, from north to south, along with everything you need to know about their wines.

Veneto

The Veneto Region, running from Venice on the Adriatic coast right the way inland past the city of Verona to the shores of Lake Garda, is the largest producer of quality wine in Italy – and this output is fairly equally split between red and white wine.

However it's their unusual method of producing red wines – using dried grapes – that marks them out from the crowd.

And the result? Amazingly concentrated wines, such as the Amarone and the very closely-related Valpolicella Ripassos (lighter in body and lower in alcohol – Amarone can hit a whopping 17%!)

Pick of the bunch

Porta Nova. Get in there.

Veneto

Piemonte

The Piemonte region of Northwest Italy is home to Barolo, considered to be Italy’s finest red wine – and often accompanied by a price tag to match.

Barolos in their youth tend to be big and chewy with a more tannins than you could shake a stick at, but if you have the patience and the budget to lay one of these monsters down for 10-15 years you're in for a real treat.

But hey. We're not all bajillionaires or whatever – so for something a bit more accessible, you could try the white wines of Gavi

Pick of the bunch

Produced from the local Cortese grape grown in vineyards just 90 mins drive south of Turin, La Battistina is one of the very best you will find.

Piemonte

Tuscany

The hill towns of Tuscany produce some of Italy’s most widely recognised and traditionally produced wines – step forward Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino, names you'll know if you've ever stumbled your way through a wine list in an Italian restaurant.

But the region is also home to lots of international grape varieties and modern practices, thanks to the enterprising spirit of a group of winemakers who broke away from Chianti in the 1970s to produce a range of wines known as Super-Tuscans.

Drama, wha?

Pick of the bunch

Made with a blend of the native Sangiovese variety and Bordeaux varieties Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Luna Argenta Rosso Toscana is one you need to check out.

Tuscany

Campania

Producing fine wine since the heyday of the Roman empire, the vineyards of Campania sit on the volcanic soils of the hills above the city of Naples.

These soils combine with the ancient grape varieties planted to produce some of Italy’s absolute best white wines.

Pick of the bunch

Terredora’s Falanghina is a great representation of the style.

Campania

Puglia

Deep in the heel of Italy, Puglia is one the hottest and sunniest regions in Europe – all that sunshine allows the fruit to get super-ripe on the vine, which translates to wines which are incredibly rich, concentrated and flavourful.

Pick of the bunch

Tenute Rubino Marmorelle Rosso is a perfect example of the above.

Puglia

Sicily

Sicily is home to a wide range of Indigenous grape varieties, and thanks to its mountainous terrain also a wide range of vineyard microclimates.

Pick of the bunch

Cusumano Insoila is produced from one of the best native white varieties and is grown at high altitude for a cooler taste profile.

Sicilia

Written By

Aidan Coughlan

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