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There are thirteen main wine regions in Italy as seen in the above picture, each regions produces various unique red and white wine. Here is the cheater's guide to Italy.
Tip 1: Look for the word "Classico" which indicates that the wine is produced in regions that have been producing that particular wine throughout history.
Tip 2: "Riserva"means wine reserved for more than 38 months.
Tip 3: If the wine is over $15 and not DOCG, don't buy it.
There are five famous wine styles you would frequently come across
1. Chianti: This is the flag carrier of Italian red wine. It is a medium body, firm tannin, and high acidity with distinct cherry note. It does NOT mean all chianti are good; it is mass produced, mostly cheaply, from Tuscany. "Superior" indicates higher tier Chinati within its Classico region.
2. Pinot Grigio: This is the flag carrier of Italian white wine and possibly the most consumed white wine of the world. Average whine wines that are really cheap. In my opinion (and many people will disagree), Italian's Pinot Grigio is the lesser brother of Alsace's pinot gris. don don don!!! It is nutty, full body, and a little oily. This is an excellent (and cheap) option for full body white wine at a restaurant.
3. Primitivo: This is the great grand father of the now famous zinfandel in California. However, Italy fell behind on this particular wine making technique (long story for another time). I have started seeing more of these in restaurants (even non-Italian ones), because its so damn cheap compared to the Californian one. If it's cheap, try a glass and impress your date with your new found knowledge!
4. Amarone: If you want to splurge, this would be the red wine to experience. The style is completely unique. It is full body, super high in alcohol, full of complex flavours ranging from cherry to raisin. The best grapes from the vineyards are air dried before being crushed and fermented. Very labour intensive and very very delicious.
5. Super Tuscan: Depend who you ask, the creators of this new wine style is either ingenious or traitorous. If you are on a date with an Italian, maybe don't order this wine. Long story short, some people realized that specific pockets of the Chanti Classico region happens to be idea for growing international grape varieties especially Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are phenomenal and have the price tag to prove it: I haven't seen any Super Tuscan under $100 CND.