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Italian Red Wine

Drinking Italian red wine is both a popular pastime and a common retirement fantasy for anyone relaxing after a particularly stressful week.

Lounging on a terrace in the low sun, no children making noise, quietly listening to Benjamin Gigli. However, if you can’t get the time off work, then a full-bodied Italian red wine can relax and soothe almost as well.

Italy is synonymous with very good (and sometimes very bad) wine. With nineteen hugely different growing regions, Italy produces almost every type of sweet, dry, light and bold grape for export en masse, accounting for one third of the world’s wine production.

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Italian wine by region

Due to the widely different growing climates from the northern regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, down to the southern scorched and sunny areas of Puglia and Sicily, Italian red wine can vary hugely from sweet and light, to earthy and almost leathery dry grapes.

The choice can be overwhelming but the good news is that unlike other European cultures where it’s relatively difficult to get a decent wine exported (Greeks jovially brag that they like to keep their good stock back so that their export offerings are practically vinegar with acidity). Italian wine can be sourced locally and at a decent price. The downside to this is deciding what you need from your bottle, and making sure you don’t end up with an acidic and over-sourced grape.

When looking at Italian red wine, make it simple by asking the only three questions that matter: firstly, sweet or dry. Secondly, what would suit: a fruit or earthy taste? And thirdly, does anyone have to get up early for work tomorrow? Any other questions (including cost) shouldn’t be considered as a reasonable Italian red wine shouldn’t set you back more than 30 Euros at the most.

For summer

On the rare occasion that needs a sweet, light or bolder red, the furthest Northern Italian regions provide the most delicate and drinkable options. A vin santo rosso and recite delle amarone both stand up to export shipping well and are sold widely at a reasonable price (about €15-€20 per bottle). Beware of anything in this price range claiming to be from Tuscany as this is the absolute best grape, and very difficult to source outside of Italy.

For best

For the best Italian red, excluding the super Tuscans, as they are highly expensive and phenomenally tasting, but rarely exported huge bottles of Italian red.

Anything with the stamp or symbol DOC DOCG is what to buy, as this a symbol of quality assurance on imported Italian wine and cheese. An Amarone della Valpolicella Classico or the Barolo family of wine gives a great bold and dry taste, perfect for a dinner party.

For everything else:

Italian reds in my opinion can upstage any meal. Choosing a dry grape, either a fruity or earthy hue  can compliment any meal.

Anything with hints of raspberry, black cherry or dried fig will serve well with pork or red meat, whilst is still drinkable after a glass and won’t give anyone a bear sized headache at the end of the evening.

A note on tannin: Anything bold or claiming to be hints of leather, cocoa, or blueberry can cause a high level of tannins in Italian reds. The slightly bitter and pleasing drying effect of tannins can lead to a cracking headache, choosing a nero d’avola provides a full bodied earthy wine without the next day fall out.

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Author

Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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