Italy gets a lot of well-deserved attention in the wine world. From the big Barolos of Piedmont to pricey super-Tuscans—Italians know wine. But there is a whole lot more to Italian wine than the Gucci and Prada versions. Italians drink more wine per capita than almost any other country. (France is a close competitor. Someone once said, “The difference in wine consumption between Italy and France is breakfast.”) Most of that wine is inexpensive, regionally consumed, readily available stuff that we all can afford. Here are some not to miss.
This month’s selections are available at Pairings Wine Market, 6001 Shady Oak Rd., Minnetonka, 952-426-0522.
Zenato Valpolicella 2005 (Peschiera), $16.49
85% corvina. It starts off like a blackberry: big fruit with soft tannins and an earthy raisin taste on the finish. Buy two bottles because you’ll drink it fast and will not be happy when it’s gone. Try it with sausage pizza.
San Quirico Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2007 (Tuscany), $17.99
If the bottle makes you think of a light Italian pinot grigio, you couldn’t be further off. This is one of the best whites made in Italy—full-bodied, spicy, and bursting with citrus acids. I would pair it with oysters, baked or raw, though a thick pork chop would also work.
Arancio Grillo 2007 (Sicily), $9.99
You have a new white in your “no oak” arsenal. The aroma of this wine jumps out of the glass with fruity and floral notes. It’s medium-bodied and more tropical on the tongue than I expected. Grillo is the white grape that Marsalas are made from, but this has only a hint of sweetness. Try with a shrimp cocktail.
Cantele Primitivo 2006 (Puglia), $11.99
Primitivo is a first cousin of zinfandel and often sells at a great value. This wine is full-bodied, with all the spice of a zinfandel but with minerals on the long finish. A perfect match with penne and a red sauce with mushrooms.