This section the website goes beyond Wine of the Month selections. Here you will find wide-ranging wine topics that explore what it is about Italian wine that is so compelling and memorable and keep you informed on current developments across the Italian wine scene. Some recent postings include:
- Franciacorta Wines: Quality Italian Bubbly to Celebrate the New Year – or Any Time of Year
- More Value-priced Super-Tuscan Wines
- Sgroppino - A Refreshing Venetian Treat
- A Tasting of Red Wines from Sardinia
- Unexpected Pleasures — Fine Italian Wines From Off the Beaten Track
Other topics covered include reviews of wines from specific Italian wineries, discussions of Italian wine varietals or wine regions, interviews with Italian winemakers, discussions of my favorite types or categories of Italian wines, Italian wine trends and markets and other wine-centric topics as the spirit moves me. View reviews and musings »
Wine bars are popping up in the Washington, DC metropolitan area like corks from celebratory Champagne bottles. While there may not yet be one on every corner, new wine bars are appearing on the scene on a fairly regular basis...read more about D.C. metro area wine bars and wine-friendly restaurants »
Call today to schedule an enjoyable & informative wine tasting experience for you, your friends, your social or church group, employees or business clients.
Custom-designed wine tastings can have different themes, such as Italy’s Heavyweight Reds – a tasting of some of Italy’s most famous “big” red wines or Great Italian Wines You’ve Probably Never Tasted – a review and tasting of some internationally acclaimed Italian wines that have not received wide attention in the U. S.
Our customized wine tasting events are typically informal affairs presented in a relaxed, walk-around setting. Wine tastings should be informative but also pleasant, convivial events shared with good friends and engaging conversation. However, more structured and formal sit-down wine seminars and tastings can also be arranged.
Rocca delle Macie, “Sasyr” Toscana IGT 2010 (about $13)
Rocca delle Macie is a relatively young and energetic winery that has over the course of a few decades comfortably established itself as one of Tuscany’s most reliable and popular producers. While the estate’s headquarters are in Castellina in Chianti in the heart of the Chianti country, it has over 500 acres under vine ... read the article »
Decugnano dei Barbi, “Il Rosso” Umbria Rosso IGT 2008 (about $27)
The Decugnano dei Barbi winery is located a few kilometers east of the stunning hill-top town of Orvieto in the Umbria region of central Italy. Although the winery itself dates back centuries, its modern history only begins in the early 1970’s. That’s when the property was purchased by wine merchant Claudio Barbi who ... read the article »
Cantina Frentana, “Rubesto” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2010 (about $15)
Cantina Frentana is a wine cooperative that takes great pride in doing things right. Located near the historic city of Lanciano in the heart of the Abruzzo wine-producing region, the Cantina Frentana has up-to-date winemaking equipment, modern facilities and, most importantly, a capable staff that works closely with its 400 plus members ... read the article »
Castello Banfi, "Belnero” Proprietor's Reserve 2009 (about $21)
Castello Banfi, better known simply as Banfi, is a prominent wine estate located near the picturesque hill-top town of Montalcino in the heart of Tuscany’s prestigious Brunello zone. Started from scratch in the late 1970’s by brothers John and Harry Mariani, prominent wine importers based in the New York City area, it today claims a big chunk of Tuscan real estate. With over 2,400 acres of prime land under vine, it is a large estate by any measure ... read the article »
Finding a wine that goes well with pizza can be an intimidating challenge. What makes the choice of a wine so daunting is that there is no such thing as a “typical” pizza. Pizzas, like people, come with all sorts of personalities and styles. Pizzas may have thin or thick crusts and range from...read the article»
Merlot is not a wine that readily comes to mind when discussing Italian wines. In a country populated with hundreds of different indigenous wine varieties and numerous attention-getting and popular wines such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello and Chianti Classico, to name a few, Italian Merlot doesn’t rise to the level of wide popular recognition.However, Merlot wines have increased in popularity in recent years with increased production of both blended wines as well as 100 percent Merlot wines. ...read the article»
In a previous posting on this website, I reviewed some noteworthy Italian wines that merit attention but are not particularly well known in this country. Italy is a complicated wine country with a rich and varied wine culture. Every one of Italy’s twenty regions grows grapes and produces wines and the country can lay claim to hundreds ...read the article »
The words “affordable” and “Super-Tuscan” don't often appear in the same sentence. Super-Tuscans are big, rich, intense and modern wines that often carry triple-digit price tags, especially acclaimed Super-Tuscans with bold-face names like Ornellaia, Messorio, Solaia, Tignanello or Sassicaia ...read the article»
In a previous posting I formulated a proposed personal wine cellar that consists entirely of Italian wines and costs approximately $1,000 at current retail prices. Now, I’m going to up the ante and look at what one can buy in the way of Italian wines for $5,000.
But it’s not just a matter of going out and buying wine until you’ve reached the $5,000 limit ...read the article »
I was first served this drink after dinner with my wife, Julie, and a few friends at a small, family-run restaurant on Campo San Margherita in Venice last year. Dinner was delightful and as we began to tuck into our desserts, the waiter - who I believe was the owner - without any prompting, simply announced that he was going to serve us one of Venice’s most famous digestivi...read the article»
Puglia (or Apulia as it’s known outside of Italy) is the region located on the Adriatic coast in southeastern Italy, in the “heel” of the “boot” that comprises geographic Italy. Because of its warm Mediterranean climate and relatively flat, fertile plains, wine has been produced here for thousands of years and in prodigious quantities. Puglia’s economy is heavily dependent on wine production ...read the article»
Matera is one of the most unusual, interesting and singular tourist destinations in Italy. While located in the off-the-beaten-track region of Basilicata in southern Italy, Matera is internationally famous for its extensive and ancient cave dwellings, known as sassi, that were inhabited as far back as ...read the article»
Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso is both the name of a grape as well as the red wine produced from that grape. Both the grape and the wine are popularly known as “Refosco” although technically it is only one sub-variety of the extended Refosco grape family. It is grown principally in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in northeast Italy and the nearby Venezia and Treviso provinces . ...read the article»
Italy offers discriminating wine lovers an astonishing array of super sparkling wines with which to celebrate the New Year or just to enjoy any time of year for that matter. One doesn’t need a special occasion to enjoy a festive sparkling wine. Any excuse will work like “it’s Saturday, let’s celebrate” or ...read the article»
A charming and refreshing but lesser known option in the Italian sparkling wine lineup is Brachetto d’Acqui. Like most other Italian sparkling wines, Brachetto d’Acqui (bra ket’ tah dahk’ qui) is produced in the cooler regions of northern Italy, in this case the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy. This seductive red sparkler is just waiting to be discovered by the American wine public. This delicately sparkling, light ruby-colored wine is characterized by pronounced red fruit aromas ...read the article»
No doubt about it, summer is almost here and your thoughts are turning to moving your dining outdoors. And whether it’s relaxed snacking on your patio, hors d’oeuvres for a summer garden party, grilling ribs or steaks or a picnic in the park, there is a great, inexpensive Italian wine that’s perfect for the occasion.
It was serendipity that escorted us to the cantina, er, farm last year while traveling in the Veneto. It was early afternoon on a brilliantly hot day in early summer and we were leisurely driving in our rented Fiat to Asolo after visiting Villa Barbaro, the magnificent 17th century Palladian estate in Maser...read the article»
Sorriso Ristorante in Cleveland Park has long been one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the D.C. metro area. It serves genuine northern Italy dishes as well as some Roman favorites. Since they are made with the best ingredients, I can always count on the food being fresh, good and relatively inexpensive. I also like the attentive but unfussy service.
Sorriso’s also has something else going for it – Pietro’s own wine from his family’s vineyard in the Lison-Pramaggiore DOC in northeastern Italy. The vineyard isn’t large – less than an acre – but is planted with 35-40 year old Merlot vines...read the article »
To be honest, I don’t know if these are the best wine bars in Rome. There are a lot of wine bars (or enoteche) in Rome and I haven’t the time or financial resources to sample all of them. Rather, these are simply the ones I have enjoyed the most during my several trips to Rome in recent years and that best meet my criteria for a really quality wine bar experience.read the article »
Suppose you have virtually unlimited discretionary income and want to stock your wine cellar with only the greatest Italian wines. Here the emphasis is solely on quality and price is not a constraint – you want the best of the best Italian wines. Since there are a lot of really good wines in Italy from which to choose, I limited the number of selections to what I consider to be the thirty-five best wines that Italy has to offer - regardless of price. The competition for a spot in the top 35 Italian wines is toughread the article »
The island of Sardinia (Sardegna) lies off the west coast of central Italy. With its rugged mountains, rocky coasts and dazzling beaches accentuated by enigmatic pre-historic stone structures, Sardinia has long been a popular destination for Italian and other European tourists. However, Sardinia is not particularly well known to most Americans and not on the American travel industry's radar screens. For most Americans ...read the article »
When it comes to versatility, food-friendliness and outright summer sipping pleasure, it is hard to beat a white wine, especially one from Italy. People generally want to take a simpler approach to life during the hot months of summer. Formal dinners give way to simpler, buffet or even picnic-type get-togethers where formidable red wines would be out of place. Rather, these types of get-togethers call for crisp and refreshing white wines that can be served either by themselves for refreshing sipping, as aperitifs or as accompaniment to luncheons or other light summer fare...read the article »
The Italian liqueur, Amaro (ah ma roh), is one of my favorite after dinner drinks. Ever since I was first served this liqueur after dinner at a restaurant in Bologna, I have been hooked on them, or at least most of them (more on this later). However, on those occasions when I have served them to guests, response to them has been what might charitably be described as mixed. There is a wide range of styles ...read the article»
Whenever my friend Andrea schedules a return visit to his native Sardinia, I try to remember to ask him to bring back a bottle of Mirto for me and to give him some cash to cover the cost. It’s one of my favorite after-dinner drinks and since it’s difficult to find in the U.S. his courtesies in this regard are always appreciated.
Mirto is a liqueur unique to the islands of Sardinia and Corsica. It is made ...read the article»
Prosecco is easily Italy’s most popular sparking wine. Light, refreshingly effervescent and inexpensive, it is an integral part of most luncheons, weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations throughout Italy. It is also a popular before-dinner drink (aperitivo), not only in the Veneto region in northeastern Italy - which is Prosecco’s traditional home - but throughout the ...read the article»
Aperol is an Italian liqueur made by infusing orange peel and oranges with a subtle blend of bitter and sweet herbs and spices. With its low alcohol content, intriguing aromas of orange and tangerine, complex bittersweet taste and its vivacious bright orange color, Aperol may well be the perfect summertime refresher. It is refreshing, vibrant and convivial ...read the article»
The Italian liqueur, Chinato, or as it’s more formally known, Barolo Chinato, originated - not surprisingly, given its name - in the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy. Chinato (key’ not toe) is still produced in the Langhe area of the Piedmont, the same area where Nebbiolo grapes are grown for the production of the celebrated Barolo wines, Italy’s “king of wines.” Barolo Chinato can trace its roots back to the late 19th century...read the article»
I taste quite a few Italian wines every month. While some are just OK, many are good and some are really great wines. In the spirit of sharing my wine experiences with you, each month I will select two as my favorite Italian Wines of the Month: one under $20 and the other over $20.
Since I’m a value-focused wine consumer, many of my monthly wine selections, especially the under-$20 selections, will be quite easy on your wallet. However, every so often I have a chance to taste a really pricey wine that I think is truly outstanding and I will include it in my over-$20 Wine of the Month selection. Think of my two monthly selections as the best Italian wines for the month on a value-to-price basis.
In recent months the under-$20 monthly wine selections included:
- Colterenzio, “Altkirch” Chardonnay 2011 (about $17)
- Carminucci, “Naumachos” Rosso Piceno Superiore 2009 (about $17)
- Sella and Mosca, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2008 (about $14)
- Il Molino di Grace, “Il Volano” Toscano Rosso IGT 2008 (about $14)
- D’Angelo, Aglianico del Vulture DOC 2010 (about $16)
In recent months the over-$20 monthly wine selections included:
- Jermann, “Vintage Tunina” Venezia Giulia IGT 2010 (about $62)
- Maculan, “Dindarello” Veneto Moscato IGT 2010 (about $21 for 375 ml bottle)
- Foradori, Teroldego Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT 2011 (about $25)
- Giovanni Rocca, “Bricco Ravera” Barolo 2007 (about $35)
- Occhipinti, “SP 68” Terre Siciliane IGT 2012 (about $28)
I want to emphasize that I’m independent and have no financial incentive to push any particular wine. Any review or recommendation is strictly determined by personal choice for reasons of merit and/or general interest. I buy my wines the same way most of you do — that is, I pay the full retail price at local wine stores. While I do have some favorite wine shops, I visit at least two different wine stores a week to assess their pricing and wine selections.
Explore travel itineraries in Italy that will appeal to intrepid souls that want to explore on their own and combine their love of travel with some wine country or vineyard tours, wine-friendly restaurants and enoteche (wine bars), or just visit interesting and historically significant places. For example, there is a proposed travel itinerary for the northeastern Veneto Treviso to Marostica and return as well as An Insider's Guide to Tasting Wines in the Piedmont: Wineries, Enoteche and Wine Shops. This section of my website should especially appeal to wine enthusiasts that love to travel and sample la dolce vita. view where to stay, dine and taste wine in italy »
- Aperol – An Italian Summertime Elixir
- A Self-guided Wine Tour of Southern Tuscany: Where to Dine, Buy and Sip Wine in Montepulciano and Montalcino
- best italian white wines for summer sipping
- Ripasso Wines - For Those Who Love Big Reds But Can’t Always Afford Amarone
- Taking it Outdoors: Ten Great Value-priced Italian Wines for Al Fresco Dining
- Passito Wines for a Sweet End to a Grand Meal
The Campania region has long been recognized as the source of some of highly-regarded red wines. These flavorful and full-bodied red wines are some of the best Italy has to offer. But Campania also has in recent decades gained recognition as the source of some of southern Italy’s most textured and complex white wines ...read the article»
Marsala was once one of the most popular fortified wines in the world. It gradually fell out of favor but a small cadre of producers has worked hard to restore Marsala to its former glory. Despite dramatic improvements in quality, market acceptance has not kept pace and Marsala is just waiting to be rediscovered...read the article»
While it’s Italy’s great red wines from the north - renowned wines like Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone and Super-Tuscans - that garner the greatest attention in the wine world, they also tend to be expensive and out of the financial reach of many consumers. But there is a growing recognition that wines from various regions south of Rome - an area generally known as the mezzogiorno or “southern” Italy - have improved dramatically in quality ...read the article»
Barbera is an unusual grape variety. It is an early-maturing variety and its juice has a dark ruby color with high acidity, wonderful berry-like aromas and flavors and discret tannins. It is a vigorous, hardy variety that adapts well to different climates and soils and is grown in many parts of the world such as Brazil. Argentina, Australia and in several areas of the U.S....read the article»
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano does indeed have a noble and storied heritage. The wine is named after the ancient and scenic hill-top town of Montepulciano whose soaring Renaissance architecture enlivens the landscape of southeastern Tuscany. These wines have been admired for centuries and were held in such high regard that they were reputedly reserved for the tables of Tuscan nobility...read the article»
Break out of the Routine This Year: Six Out-of-the-Ordinary Italian Wines to Expand Your Wine Horizon
There are many finely-crafted and pleasurable wines from Italy on wine shop shelves that simply get overlooked because they’re not particularly well known and consequently outside the typical wine purchaser’s comfort zone. This article reviews six pleasurable, out-of-the-ordinary Italian wines that will give fillip to your plan to escape from the ordinary and expand your wine horizons this new year...read the article»
Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines recently released their picks for the 100 best wines from around the world released in 2013. These are two of the world’s most prestigious wine-centric magazines. Both magazines are highly regarded and their selections for the world’s best wines of 2013 include a number of Italian wines. It is interesting to look at exactly which Italian wines made the lists...read the article»
Gambero Rosso recently released the recipients of its coveted 2014 Tre Bicchieri awards for quality Italian wines. Tre Bicchieri (“Three Glasses”) wines are deemed to be the best in Italy. The 2014 Tre Bicchieri awards were announced over the web in stages by region beginning in early October of this year. It is an exhausting review and selection process. This year, approximately 60 wine experts ...read the article»
Morellino di Scansano is a Sangiovese-based red wine produced in the area around the ancient village of Scansano in Tuscany’s Maremma region. The area's rich volcanic soil and dry, hot weather makes it a prime area for growing wine grapes. The sea breezes from the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea also promote large day-night temperature swings which, counter-intuitively, are beneficial ...read the article»
Here are some inexpensive red wines from Italy to accompany your fall activities, whether they involve participating in tailgate parties with friends, taking advantage of the outdoor grill before winter sets in or just chilling out watching the leaves change color. And you don’t necessarily want an austere and complex wine. Rather, something flavorful, easy to drink and not too expensive will do the trick...read the article»
Passito is an Italian word for wines made by the appassimento process whereby grapes are partially dried on straw mats or pallets in airy rooms or barns in order to concentrate the grapes’ flavors and sweetness prior to vinification. As the grapes shrivel and lose water they become full of concentrated sugars and flavors ...read the article»
Organic wines and environmentally friendly wineries in Italy - as well as elsewhere - are in vogue now. Formerly the domain of small, artisanal, off-the-grid wineries, the movement has expanded, evolved and become generally accepted in a way that could not have been forecast or even imagined a few decades ago. Today, any number of producers tout their organic or eco-friendly credentials as much if not more than the quality of their wines. Even establishment organizations such as Gambero Rosso...read the article»
I enjoy touring Tuscany and visiting wineries in that beautiful part of Italy. Wines from the Chianti region are among Tuscany’s most famous while the Brunello di Montalcino wines from southern Tuscany are some of the best Italy has to offer, prized for their structure, elegance and longevity.
But another category of Tuscan wine - called Super-Tuscan - has received considerable critical acclaim from critics and consumers alike over the past several decades and in the process has recharged the entire Italian wine scenet...read the article»
Fine Italian Restaurants To Visit in New York After Touring the Frick's Piero Della Francesca Exhibit
The first U.S. exhibit of paintings by the early Italian Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca is at the Frick Collection in New York now through May 19, 2013. This is a rare opportunity to view some of the work of one of the earliest and greatest Italian Renaissance painters. Since viewers will need some post-gallery sustenance, this article reviews some wine bars and wine-friendly Italian restaurants worth a visit after touring the Frick’s Piero della Francesca exhibit...read the article»
Puglia can lay claim to 29 DOC wine zones of which more than half (16) are located in the southern-most part of Puglia in what is called the Salento peninsula, the fertile, flat and sun-drenched tip of the “heel” of the “boot” that comprises geographic Italy. Puglia also has 4 DOCG wine zones of which 3 are in the Castel del Monte wine region, an up-and-coming wine area that holds great promise. The zone takes its name from the octagonally-shaped 13th century castle lying south of the city of Andria...read the article»
Among Italy’s numerous and vibrant wine regions, the Mount Etna region in northeastern Sicily seems an unlikely site for producing any wines let alone quality wines. Mount Etna is an active, fearsome volcano that has erupted from time to time, sometimes savagely, for thousands of years. Nonetheless, it is one of Italy’s hottest wine regions, so to speak, and vintners are now scrambling to purchase vineyard property in the region ...read the article»
White wines play a significant role in Umbria today and constitute the bulk of the region’s total wine production and wine exports. But it is Umbria’s dry red wines that have garnered the most attention in recent years. The Sangiovese-based Torgiano Rosso Riserva wines from the Torgiano area and the Sagrantino-based wines from the area around the ancient hill town of Montefalco are wines of character and distinction that garner rave reviews from wine critics and consumers alike ...read the article»
Dolcetto is an early-ripening grape and like many similar varieties produces wines that are soft, fruity and acidic with mild tannins. As such, they generally do not benefit from long bottle ageing. Dolcettos are very popular in Italy, particularly in the Piedmont region, and many use it as their everyday, go-to wine. It is a fixture at their daily dinner tables and for entertaining close friends ...read the article»
“What would I like to find under my tree on Christmas day?” you ask. Well - surprise! - I would really be happy and pleased to find a good bottle of Italian wine! And it wouldn’t have to be a really expensive bottle from a boldface-name producer. I would be pleased to just receive a good bottle of wine that showed some care and thought on the part of the giver...read the article»
Ripasso is a red wine from the Valpolicella zone which is located north of Verona in the Veneto region of Italy, which is also the home of the world famous Amarone wines. Ripasso wines are generally less well known than Amarone wines even though the two wines share some of the same features and flavor profiles. Ripasso wines are rich, full-bodied and have some of the same aroma and flavor contours as Amarone wines. They are more approachable and less expensive than Amarone wines so they can be enjoyed regularly while saving the Amarones for those special occasions...read the article»
Wines from southern Italy have historically been overlooked in favor of the better-known and popular wine regions of northern Italy - mainly Tuscany, Piedmont and the Veneto. However, southern Italy has a rich winemaking heritage and is considered the birthplace of Italian wines. With its warm Mediterranean climate, rich volcanic soil and abundance of ancient native grape varieties, vineyards have dotted southern Italy’s landscape for thousands of years ...read the article»
It’s that time of year when we start seeing numerous “best of” lists. You know what I mean - lists enumerating the best of this or that for the year such as favorite restaurants, movies, music, etc.
So, in the spirit of the season, I have assembled a list of my favorite value-priced Italian red wines for the year. Specifically, presented here are the twelve best red wines I’ve tasted over the course of the year that retail for $20 or less...read the article»
Traditionally, where you find good wine in Italy you also find good food and restaurants. The Piedmont region is no exception to this rule. Its array of world-class wines is matched by the quality of its food and restaurants - it's a foodies' paradise. Listed are ten of my favorite, must-visit restaurants in the Piedmont ...read the article»
Moscato d’Asti (mos scah’ toh dah’ stee) is a lightly sweet and gently effervescent wine from the Piedmont region in northern Italy. While it is a festive and fun wine, it does have a sense of place and style that help explain why it ranks so high as one of Italy’s favorite wines.Moscato d’Asti is related to - and often confused with - Asti Spumante. Both are DOCG wines made with the same grapes grown in the same general area. However, they are quite different ...read the article»
A Self-guided Wine Tour of Southern Tuscany: Where to Dine, Sip and Buy Wine in Montepulciano and Montalcino
Montalcino and Montepulciano are two engaging hill towns in southern Tuscany (i.e., Tuscany south of Siena) with distinguished pasts and embellished with historic architecture and Renaissance art. But Montalcino and Montepulciano are also prominently known for their wines - Vino Nobile for Montepulciano and Brunello for Montalcino - and both cities and their environs are filled with cantine, enoteche (wine bars), world-famous wineries and wine-friendly restaurants.
This article provides a self-guided tour of wineries in the Montepulciano and Montalcino areas that welcome visitors for tours and tastings. Also presented are listings of local wine shops that have wines available for tasting by the glass and wine-friendly restaurants...read the article»
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