Italians are famous for being fine artists, but there's more to choosing a fine Italian wine than just looking at the art on the label. Buy wisely with these tips.
Step 1: Look for wine from popular regions Look for wine from the most popular of the 20 different wine regions in Italy. The Northern Italian region of Tuscany is famous for its popular Chianti, Chianti Classico, and Brunello di Montalcino -- red wines made from the Sangiovese grape.
TIP: A general rule is to pair red wine with red meat and white wine with fish and white meat, but it's not written in stone. Lighter-bodied reds can also pair with white meat.
Step 2: Try wines from Piedmont Try wines from Piedmont. Two excellent dry red wines it produces are Barbaresco and Barolo made from the Nebbiolo grape; Asti Spumante also hails from this region in Northwestern Italy.
Step 3: Find wines from Veneto Seek out wine from Veneto, home to Venice in Northern Italy, for light and simple varietals. White wines include Soave and Prosecco, a sparkling, semi-sweet wine made from the Prosecco grape; Valpolicella and Bardolino are two of its light, red wines.
Step 4: Choose wine from southern Italy Sample wine from southern Italy, such as Taurasi, a full-bodied red made from the regional grape, Aglianico. Wines from southern Italy are generally thought of as mediocre, resulting in government incentives for improving quality.
Step 5: Know wine classification regulations Know the Italian government's wine classification regulations. A wine labeled DOCG meets the strictest regulations; DOC is the next strictest classification; IGT is classified as excellent value for the cost; and VDT or table wine is the lowest classification.
TIP: DOCG classification doesn't automatically mean a better-tasting wine, but ensures a higher level of quality.
Step 6: Pick a Super Tuscan Pick a Super Tuscan. Developed by winemakers in the late 1970s in Tuscany, Super Tuscans are a blend of Sangiovese and French grapes. They are considered some of Italy's best wines.
FACT: The DOC laws regulating wine in Italy were enacted in 1963.