Italians know their wine. But there are so many varietals from its sunny, breezy climes that sometimes the rest of us forget the difference between a Barbera and a Barbaresco. No fear: this handy guide will keep you straight.
- Amarone: From the Veneto region come Corvina grapes, which are partially dried to make this big, full-bodied wine that has a surprising undertone of sweetness.
- Barbaresco: Like Barolo? Try this lighter, more easy-drinking alternative.
- Barbera: Mainly from the Piedmont region, this medium-bodied, very fruity wine is a crowd-pleaser and a great choice at a restaurant.
- Barolo: This dry, full-bodied wine is complex, with berry flavors as well as earth, herbs and even tar. Delicious and often priced to match.
- Brunello di Montalcino: From grapes grown in the Montalcino zone of Tuscany, this wine is dry and tannic.
- Chianti: That perpetual favorite of homey Italian restaurants, Chianti is dry, moderately tannic, and usually flavored of tart cherries.
- Lambrusco: A sparkling red wine that is often sweet.
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: Smooth, flavorful, and great with food.
- Salice Salentino: Dry wine from the Puglia region. Often has aromas of ripe fruit with a rich, chewy texture.
- Valpolicella: Dry and moderately tannic with intense cherry flavors.
- Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: Like Chianti, but bigger.
- Asti: Sparkling wine made from Moscato grapes, this wine is sweet and fresh.
- Frascati: Mainly made of Trebbiano grapes, this wine is dry, light, and easy to drink.
- Gavi: A medium-bodied wine, typically dry with aromas of apples and minerals.
- Orvieto: A medium-bodied wine, often with flavors of pear and apple.
- Pinot Grigio: This popular wine is light, dry, and crisp with no oakiness.
- Soave: Generally dry, crisp, and medium-bodied. From the Soave zone in the Veneto region.
- Verdicchio: From the Marche region, Verdicchio grapes make this wine dry, crisp, and pleasantly mineral.