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Unsung Italian Wine Heros


Seeing as it’s nearly summer, let’s forget about rainy days and celebrate one of the European countries we most associate with sunshine and viticulture – Italy. Us Brits love Italian wine but our love for it tends to be concentrated on a handful of bottles. This is mostly recently displayed with our ability to consume rather a lot of Prosecco, the now very famous Italian sparkling wine. So if you fancy spending this summer broadening your wine horizons here are our favourite unsung Italian wine heros, based on some more well-known favourites…

Alternatives to Pinot Grigio

Our love for a cold glass of Pinot Grigio shows no sign of abating and why should it? Once you’ve found a great summer wine that you love, then having it within easy reach makes that one less decision you have to make at the end of a working day. But your commitment to that one brand of Pinot Grigio could mean missing out on some more interesting Italian white wines.


Wines made from the Vermentino grape, such as the Poggio del Sasso, can offer a bit more on the aroma and flavour front with rich honeysuckle and elderflower scents and a steely Chablis-esque palate. Spending a few more pounds on your bottle can also get you a fine Gavi di Gavi that is made from the Cortese grape. These wines have amazing stone fruit characteristics and who doesn’t love a bit of subtle peach aroma before they take their first sip?


If you’re sticking close to Pinot Grigio’s homeland of the Veneto, try branching out towards a fresh white made from the Garganegagrape. In addition to the well-known Soave region, the lesser-known and much smaller region of Gambellara produces crisp, floral styles at higher altitudes. Beware, they are extremely more-ish!

Alternatives to Chianti

One of the more famous Italian reds has quite the reputation and rightly so. But did you know that you can get Italian wines made from the same grapes varieties that might represent much better value for money, mostly because they don’t have the name ‘Chianti’ on the label. If I can use fashion as a metaphor for just a moment, it’s like buying a dress from a not-so-well-known up and coming designer – superbly crafted and reasonably priced. There’s a good chance you could get more flavour for your pounds with these suggestions.


Wines that come under the Carmignanoclassification in northern Tuscany are made from the same grape varieties grown in Chianti (here Sangiovese). The lesser-known area can often give you a richer wine for a better price. Move further south out of the Tuscan countryside and you find yourself in the Abruzzo, where the Montepulciano grape reigns supreme. Much easier to grow than Sangiovese, this little grape produces well balanced, easy drinking reds that more than match their Tuscan counterparts at the same price.


Moving further north, Valpolicella Ripasso wines are always excellent value for those seeking complex flavours in their reds. The word ‘Ripasso’ refers to a second fermentation that takes place on the discarded skins of the grapes used to make the raisin-like Amarone wines. This imparts a rich, raisin-like dimension to the wine for a fraction of the price of Amarone.

So make this summer the season you REALLY get to know Italian wine. Granted, it can be a bit of a minefield, but these recommendations will see you in good stead and get you started.


By: Anna

***Grabbed from: