Ten Things to Know About Italian Wines

1. Italy is the world’s second largest wine producer, trailing only France in annual production. In the old days, it used to be the global wine-trading center. It was even called enotria, which means “land of wine”. This is not surprising because the entire Italian peninsula has excellent soil and climate, satisfying the most stringent of French terroir requirements.

2. Like France, Italy also follows a tightly controlled appellation system that enforces rules and regulations that guarantee vineyard quality, yields and winemaking standards. If you know about French wine, then, rejoice. You are in familiar territory.

3. Based from the Italian appellation system, there are more than three hundred wine labels under the Denominazioni di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazioni di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), produced by at least fifty thousand wineries.

4. There are twenty wine regions in Italy. Each produces different type of wine and grape varieties. For example, Nebbiolo and Barbera grape varieties are primarily used in the Piemonte region. Perhaps you are acquainted with the former because it gave the world the spectacular Barolo and Barbaresco wines.

5. Italy prides itself with producing high quality wines from Italian indigenous grapes or traditional varieties such as Nero d’Avola, Fiano, Sagrantino and Teroldego. These varieties is said to set Italian wines apart from international grape varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Tuscan vintners such as Piero Antinori are credited to have made this possible when they led the local wine industry towards the recent Italian wine revival through their innovations in winemaking process.

6. Sangiovese is the most popular grape variety for red wine in Italy, serving as the main grape of popular Italian exports such as Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino.

7. Amarone wine is the most distinctive and symbolic of all the Italian wines.

8. The best Italian sparkling wines are produced in the north, at the foot of the Italian Alps. Particularly, the regions, Trentino and Franciacorta are famous for it, with established regulations that strictly control the cultivation of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape varieties.

9. Wine producers in Italy are classified into three: single producers, cooperatives and large wineries. This information is important in finding rare wines.

10. Tuscan Wines made from or with international grapes such as Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet-Sauvignon used to be classified as Vino da Tavola, a low quality category. However, modern Italian vintners have successfully created quality wines using these unsanctioned varieties, blending them with indigenous varieties. These bottles are now called Super Tuscan, wines that rival the best in Bordeaux and Napa Valley. Interestingly, these wines were produced by superseding Italian wine law. There, that is where the titular “super” came from.

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