I have never been a fan of wine, and I think that is because the wine I have had has been cheap. What are your recommendations for fine Italian wine, and where would I go in Italy to experience it? How would you describe the taste? Thanks!
The only thing that matters about any wine is whether you like the taste. Price is irrelevant. You'll find good, inexpensive local wine all over Italy and the rest of Europe for that matter. In my experience, most wines don't stand out unless paired properly with food. The best thing to do is ask the locals what they like. Ask for a recommendation to go with the meal you are having. Most of the time, you'll be happy with the result.
(all together now) "The one in my glass!!!" You're welcome. Now that THAT'S out of the way... David, try looking at some books, such as the "Idiots/Dummies Guide to Italian Wines" for some basic (and not so basic) info on them (flip through them to decide whether you're an idiot or a dummy) . The more you know about them, the more you can experience from them, and the more you can enjoy them! You'll understand what you like and don't like, and why. That's a stepping-stone for choosing certain grapes, regions of Italy (or anywhere), and even particular wineries. Very similar to watching an extremely boring football game because you don't understand the game, and watching when you DO understand - completely different experience! DO drink the 'cheap' wines of Europe - they're good! Here, they're poo-poo'd as 'not worthy'. And start drinking! Seriously; use the book and start experimenting/playing. Wine should be FUN!!! And there is no right or wrong; you like what you like, and your tastes will change over time. Now go do your homework ;-)
Amarone della Valpolicella, in the Veneto. (ducking from eggs thrown Eileen cuz I answered the question)
Any that is free.
I've become a big fan of any Spumante if its available.
David, My preference is just about any Italian wines - Chianti, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Valpolicella and Orvieto Classico. If you're really adventurous, you can try some Grappa! Happy travels!
Oh, another class of drinks to try is dessert wines. Vin Santo in particular.
I heard about the Grappa. LOL
Don't be afraid of Grappa. There is an amazing variety. One of the experiences you can enjoy in Italy that you can't replicate in the U.S. is trying the amazing variety of grappas (once an evening, of course) after dinner. Also the varieties of aperitifs available.
For me, the quintessential Italian wine is Lacryma Christi, which is grown only from grapes that grow on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. There are both reds and whites; all are very good.
"(ducking from eggs thrown Eileen cuz I answered the question)" But Lola, they're pretty Easter eggs! So colorful...and great with any Italian wine ;-)
Finally a question that's right up my alley... In general, my favorite wine in the world is Brunello di Montalcino. I've never had a bad one, it's extraordinary and is the foundation of my prized wine collection. That said, my favorite individual wine is probably a 2003 Marchesi di Barolo. The 3 best regions in Italy for wine are Tuscany (Montalcino, Montepulciano), Piedmonte (Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera) and the Veneto (Amarone, Valpolicella Classico, Ripasso, Recioto). That's not to say that other regions don't produce world class wine - they do - but you can't go wrong with those three. Be careful with the full bodied reds, some of them, such as the Barolo are tannic monsters and need to breathe to soften out. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes for each year of the vintage but for Brunellos and Barolos, give them a bit longer. On rare occasions when we open one of my prized Brunellos, I usually let it breathe for 6-7 hours for example.
I was never a fan of wine either, but Italy sure changed that. Unfortunately, Im still not good with wine names but I'll try... There was a wine called "Divino" I THINK. It was a white after-dinner wine. Very tasty!! I also liked "Fragolina" which is a wine made of strawberries, not grapes. Awesome with desert! Took a bottle home!
We went to Citia di Bagnoregio (sp?) and they had some great "Amoro" which was like a dark liquor with orange spice and nutmeg and all kind of warm and cozy flavors. And of course, get the Grappa! Now THAT name I know for sure! :-)
I'm also a big fan of Brunello, but for a newer wine drinker, I'd recommend any Prosecco. It's gentle enough and bubbly and light and very refreshing on a warm day. Great way to get started!
@Doug: yes!! The name of the wine is Santo NOT Divino (see my post). I knew it was some "saintly" name (divine, saint, heavenly, etc...) but that's exactly what I was referring to. I highly recommend trying it.
So true. You like what you like. ANd your taste will change. Generally in the beginning you like the lighter wines then develope to more complex more complex wine tastes. I personally like blends and liked one we had in Lake Lugano called Villa Antinori. But even if you would hear a name on this site, you may have difficulty finding it everywhere you go.Experiment and try to write down the ones you try and be different each day. YOU can start now and go to a local wineshop that may allow you to taste and learn. You can hit the ground running. More $ does not mean better wine but if you are going to have a Brunello you will pay more than $45 for a decent one.
I second the Brunello, I don't think I know anyone who's tried it and didn't enjoy it. More recently I discovered that I really enjoy Primitivo. It's made in Puglia, but too bad I can't include it on my itinerary for next month :( I imagine that a wine bar in any of the big cities will have one or two you could try though...
Primitivo is the ancestor grape of the California Zinfandel.
I have to second what Eileen said (the one in your glass) but I also have to agree not to be afraid of the "cheap" wine. Many on this board will hoot out loud, but I honestly had a fantastic glass of wine at an Autogrille (Italy's version of a highway rest area) that cost about 1,50 euros, cheaper than a bottle of water. Try it all, you'll find something you like. And if the waiter gives you the stink eye when you order it, consider changing your order.
Brunello!!!! Orvieto Classico. Super Tuscan.
Hey...take your pick! The house wines (vino della casa) are almost always great!
If you like white wine, I really liked Vernaccia, made in San Gimignano in Tuscany. It would be hard for me to tell you how it tastes. Most of the house wines we had were good. You don't need to spend a lot to have good tasting wine.