Let’s face it, sparkling Italian wines are perfect for a long late summer’s evening. The lightness of taste and the touch of fizz refreshes and revives. But there are other Italian wines to try, too. Here’s our inside guide to what to drink on these last days of summer.
Why you should drink Italian wine
It’s hard not to love Italy: few can be immune to her sense of romance. From the waterways of Venice to the crumbling cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, the buzz of the Vespa and the clink of the coffee cups, Italy draws us in with her sights, her smells, her touch, her sounds - and her taste.
And whether or not you can travel to Italy, you can bring her tastes to you through her wines. Italian wines cover a huge depth and breadth these days, from light and reviving to heavier and more full bodied.
The Best Sparkling Italian Wines
Produced in the Italian region of Lombardy, Franciacorta generally ranks as one of the top Italian DOCG sparkling wines. Fine and very fresh, Franciacorta is one of the most important wines to follow the “Metodo Classico” or Italian tradition. Franciacorta’s producers have worked hard over many years to draw up quality safeguards for its wines. Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes with a hint of Pinot Bianco, the wine has a clean, citrusy finish. There are three permitted typologies: “Franciacorta”, “Franciacorta" Satèn and “Franciacorta” Rosé.
Forget all the jokes from the 80s. A good Lambrusco is a joy to behold. Made from at least 80% Lambrusco grapes, the wine carries a soft fizz with a hint of strawberry. Most Lambrusco is produced in Emilia, part of Emilia-Romagna, the region famed for Parma ham and the world famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The most commonly found six Lambrusco varieties are Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Montericco, Lambrusco Salamino, and Lambrusco Sorbara.
Perhaps the most famous of the Italian sparkling wines, Prosecco is definitely enjoying its time in the spotlight. And people are enjoying drinking it! The Prosecco production areas are not only concentrated in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, but also in the Veneto provinces of Venice, Treviso, Vicenza and Belluno.
The main grape variety from which Prosecco is made is Glera; up to a maximum of 15% may be added to the other 8 varieties: Bianchetta, Perera, Verdiso, Glera Lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Nero. There are three types of Prosecco, which differ in terms of their production processes: Prosecco Tranquillo, Prosecco Spumante and Prosecco Frizzante.
Produced in the shadow of the stunning Dolomite mountains, the sparkling Italian wine Trento DOC takes its name from the city of Trento and has the important Denomination of Controlled Origin certification. Trento DOC is obtained from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Bianco and Meunier grapes, in varying percentages. A Trento DOC is a versatile sparkling wine that lends itself well to numerous pairings; it is not only excellent as an aperitif but is also suitable to accompany the whole meal.
The Best Italian White Wines for an Endless Summer
While sparkling Italian wines make the perfect summer drink, there’s a place for other white wines too.
When the temperature rises, check out these favourite flavours:
Made from the Garganega grape with the addition of 30% Trebbiano di Soave or Chardonnay, Soave wines are some of the bests known from the Veneto region. While some are lighter bodied, others develop more of a character with rich textures and aromas. The best pairing of this white wine is undoubtedly with fish from both the lakes and the sea, as well as other seafood.
Collio and Colli Orientali
These wines from the Friuli region make it onto the lists of best Italian white wines time and again. Friuli prides itself on its technological innovation and the blend of native and international grapes has created a new taste that has won over critics.
Widely known abroad, Gavi DOCG is the great white wine of Piedmont, whose name is tied to that of a princess. The Gavi Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin was created in 1998 to replace the 1974 DOC denomination. Made from Cortese grapes, it can be: Gavi Tranquillo, Gavi Frizzante, Gavi Spumante, Gavi Riserva and Gavi Spumante Metodo Classico.
What to eat with Italian wine at the end of summer
As ever, you have a huge range of choice when it comes to pair Italian flavours with Italian wines. This article from the Guardian introduces a range of Italian recipes for summer's last days, from insalata di mare (seafood salad) to cavatelli with cherry tomatoes and rocket.
Alternatively, you could keep things simple and easily pair your Italian wines with Italian appetizers which need no preparation. Take a leaf out of the book from the Italians who celebrate in caves or the "crotti" in Chiavenna. They pair local wine with thin slices of beef bresaola, then follow that with hard bitto cheese.
And why not use the next months to explore Italian food a little more? You can easily pick up a pasta machine and learn how to make a real ragù.
Finally, no self-respecting Italian would ever forget about coffee. Factor that into your plans!
More About Italy
Have you enjoyed reading this article about the best Italian wines to drink this summer?
Explore more with these other posts about Italy.
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- Why these products make the best Italian souvenirs
- Why the food scene in Trieste stands out in Italy
- 21 unique things to do in Italy: a collection of hidden gems
- The Italian landmarks that everyone needs to know
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