Following on from my first E’s Wine Series article, the country I’m most confident suggesting wine to you from, is Italy. I was first introduced to Italian wines when I travelled there over four years ago, and they have been some of my favourite wines ever since.
You will see at least one of the following three varietals on a wine list in restaurants in Italy. Of course, there are numerous varieties of these wines and they range in price. You can get a bottle of chianti for £12, but I’ve also seen them for over £150. If you’re ordering at a restaurant or wine bar, I’d suggest chatting to the waiter about what you’re looking for and get their advice.
When we were in Rome, we visited wine bar, Cul de Sac, and were overwhelmed with their enormous wine list. We hadn’t ever seen one quite like it, it was a massive binder folder full of wines. We decided it would be the easiest if we went for a wine type we knew well, Montepulciano, however the one we asked for (after 15 minutes of umming and ahhing) was sold out. The waiter suggested we try an unfiltered Montepulciano, called Feudo Antico Tullum Rosso. I was a little unsure at first, but he said it’s full in flavour and very, very good, so we went with it. Boy, we were glad we did, it was a delicious full-bodied and fruity delight, and paired perfectly with our cheese board.
Anyway, enough chatting from me. Let’s get onto the wines!
About: Chianti originates, and gets its name from, the Chianti region in Tuscany, Italy. There are two types of Chianti you will come across – Chianti and Chianti Classico. Chianti is only aged for six months, whereas Chianti Classico has to be aged for at least a year, making it slightly more refined in flavour.
Grape: Most varieties of Chianti are made from 100% Sangiovese, although you may find they’re occasionally mixed with other grapes, such as Colorino, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.
Taste: Earthy, dry, red fruit flavour such as cherries, strawberries and plums.
Perfectly paired with: Everything and everything. Chianti is an easy drinking wine and is high in acidity, which makes it go with anything you’d like to eat, especially tomato based dishes, cheese and olive oil dishes.
About: Montepulciano is a delicious, very easy-drinking red wine. It’s in-expensive, you could pick up a bottle for around £5 if you’d fancy. Although if you’re looking for good quality (look for one which is over 4 years old), you’re more likely to spend around the £20 mark. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is one of the most popular types (and a real favourite of ours), which is from Abruzzo in Italy.
Grape: Montepulciano comes from the grape Montepulciano, which is one of the most planted grape varietals in Italy.
Taste: Silky, smooth, medium-bodied, red fruit flavours, plum, sour cherry, oregano
Perfectly paired with: Just like the majority of Italian reds, Montepulciano goes really well with most food, although ittastes especially good paired with something of substance. Try it with beans, aged cheddar, parmesan and roasted vegetables.
Quick note: The grape Montepulciano can be confused with the Italian town Montepulciano. In this town they produce Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano, which are both made with Sangiovese and take their name from the town.
About: The top Italian wine, Sangiovese is found everywhere in Italy. Not only does the wine come in it’s own varietal, the Sangiovese grape is used to make many of Italy’s most predominate wines, such as Chianti and Brunello.
Grape: Sangiovese comes from the grape Sangiovese, which is the most popular grape in Italy. The grape is mainly grown in Tuscany, Umbria and Campania.
Taste: Earthy, well-rounded, rustic, medium-full bodied, red currant, tomato, raspberry
Perfectly paired with: Tomato-based pizza and pasta dishes, chickpeas, mushrooms.
Do you have a favourite type of Italian wine? Are there any you recommend we try? Xx
Shop Chianti, Montepulciano & Sangiovese below:
Editor’s note: I like to think I know quite a lot about wine, but really I’m still an amateur. This is why I’ve been reading these amazing books to help me on my wine education journey: Wine Folly, The Wine Dine Dictionary & Decoding Italian Wine. These books have been my fabulous sources for this article.