Wine Review. This is a shortened version of the post originally written for The World by the Brunette.
Wine review. This is always a difficult subject, or so people make it sound like it is difficult. In my opinion it is completely subjective. There is no right or wrong answers. Tastes are tastes. I also recommend that you do not only try the better marketed ‘Chianti’ or ‘Montepulciano’. As I always tell travelers coming to Italy, there is more to this country than Rome, Florence, and Venice, and the same can be said about Italian wines.
Throw away that “Wine for dummies” e-book, and sit down with a bottle of local wine, preferably on a rooftop garden overlooking the gulf of Naples, a B&B in Orvieto at sunset overlooking the green Umbrian countryside, or simply in your lounge room with friends. Do not let the world around you distract your wine tasting experience, be bold and risk a little more.
- San Magno from Corte dei Papi (Cesanese Grape)
- Ziggurat from Carapace – Tenuta Castelbuono (Sagrantino Grape)
- Barolo from Pelassa (Nebbiolo Grape)
Cesanese del Piglio
A must-try when you are in Lazio is the Cesanese del Piglio from the winery Corte dei Papi. It’s a locally grown grape variety from the town of Anagni as well as four other surrounding towns in the comune of Frosinone.
Ideal for the local food of the Ciociaria and also the food of Lazio, or you can pair it with various types of cheeses. Their good all around wine is Colle Ticchio and can be enjoyed in winter and summer months.
Check out my post on Anagni.
Another red that I have thoroughly enjoyed is the Sagrantino, found in the Montefalco area of Umbria (one of my favorite regions in Italy) by Tenuta Castelbuono. This grape variety has been getting some recognition lately, but the Umbrianites (Umbrians? …not important) have been enjoying this grape since the 1600s—now that is important!
This is one of the largest producers of wine in Italy, so it is fairly different than a small family winery like Corte de Papi. Not only is their wine delicious but their winery is incredible too!
I have a couple of posts on Umbria!
This may be one of the only wine varieties I came across purely by chance. I had been told of the amazing Barolo’s of this world and while I was doing some online wine shopping I came across Pelassa. I lucked out simply by taking a chance and not reading other people’s reviews. The meal I tried it with was a simple yet delicious plate of pappardelle with homemade bolognese sauce. Just perfect.
I cannot take the credit for discovering Ribolla Gialla. This was all my ex-girlfriend who, while out to dinner one night, asked me a simple question, “Have you ever tried Ribolla Gialla before?” I said, “No, I cannot say I have” and ordered the bottle on the menu. I do not double guess such “signs,” especially when it comes to wine.
Both wineries are found in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Both also produce great wines to accompany to seafood pasta dishes through and, yes, I am going to write it, sushi! This is a recommended grape variety for lovers of white wine and seafood.
Psst, Over Here! I must be honest with you, my favorite white is a Sauvignon Blanc from Giesen Wine Estate in New Zealand but shhhhhh… don’t tell my Italian friends.
Prosecco / Spumante:
So, I will start by saying that I love to eat with sparkling wine. I definitely do not see it only as an aperitif or just mixed to make your Aperol Spritz! Again, in my very humble opinion, the right spumante and prosecco must be followed by Brut/Extra Brut/Brut Nature: the drier the better.
Serve these wines with a cheese platter, a seafood dinner, a roast dinner, or dessert! In my opinion, there are no boundaries for when and where to use a Spumante or a Prosecco—as long as it is dry.
Key information on sparkling whites:
Spumante – simply put it’s “sparkling white.”
Prosecco – producers must use 100% Glera grapes to call it Prosecco.
Champenoise method – highest quality production and most manual processes, with the secondary fermentation inside the bottle and —voilà—you get fine, elegant bubbles.
Charmat method – less expensive mass-production method where the second fermentation takes place in a pressurized tank, rather than in a bottle. More important, the wine has coarser bubbles. However, it can still taste great when it’s from a right producer.
In short, these are just my personal suggestions of Italian wines to try. Many can be also found overseas, so you can check them out before coming to Italy.
When you write a Wine Review: Wines can be delivered “corked,” so if you are not sure, ask your waiter or sommelier to taste it for you. Do not let one bad bottle ruin a wine for you. Also, remember that a certain wine might not be what you like. Be kind in your reviews, especially for family run wineries (they work really hard and with a lot of passion). Do not let your bad experience put other people off. Also, do not always go by what “the best in the biz” suggest. Like I said above, tastes are subjective and what I like might be very different to what you like, so keep an open mind!