You may have heard how much the Italians love their food and their cheese but what we love just as much, if not more is our wine. Italy is home to some of the most enchanting varieties of wine made from either only one type of grape or is the main ingredient. With more than 350 varieties grown and brewed across 20 wine regions, Italy is the birthplace of local grape varieties that can boggle the mind of non-natives.
However, if I had to narrow it down to the top indigenous grapes and wines made from them, this is the list I would suggest as the ultimate Italian wine starter kit.
Used to make the Tuscan wine called Chianti, the Sangiovese grape is the most commonly planted grapes in Italy. Famous for its bright red color and intense fruity flavor, the Sangiovese grape is a key ingredient for medium to full-bodied wines with powerfully acidic undertones. Chianti Classico is typically aged in oak for a minimum of two years and is laced with the aroma and flavors of licorice and tobacco.
Barbera is a dark-skinned grape that is planted most commonly in the northwest of Italy called Piemonte. The Barbera grape produces high quality wones with low tannin and a higher dose of acidity. It may often be paired with hints of cherry and oak which make the wine burst with tasteful and well-integrated flavors. If you’re looking for wine made from Barbera in Italy, make sure to visit the town of Alba, known for its production of the finest quality Barbera d’Alba which is full of robust fruity flavors. On the higher end, Barbera grape wines are infused with strong flavors of blackberry and subtle hints of chocolate.
While the Barbera grape may be predominant in the Piemonte region, it does not beat the prestiege of the Nebbiolo grape. The wine produced by the Nebbiolo grapes is lighter in color and delicate in texture than most Italian wines. Wines made from Nebbiolo resonate most with the lovers of pinot noir because of its texture. Since the grape produces wine with a lighter texture, it can be infused and paired with many flavors such as raspberry, coffee and truffle.
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Christopher V. Carovillano is a first generation Italian who began his professional career as an Italian language instructor and now follows his passion of blogging about the Italian cuisine, culture and the Italian way of life on his blog The Italian Guru. You can also follow him on his YouTube, Tumblr and Twitter to hear more from The Italian Guru.
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