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Italian Wine Guide

Italian Wine Guide

Food, romance, and wine - probably the first 3 things most people think of when they think of Italy. And with good reason - Italy was the largest producer and exporter of wine in 2020. Wine is big business for the Italians - every single region in Italy produces wine, and the country is home to some of the oldest wine producing regions in the world. Italy produces a wider selection of wines than any other country. 


Wines are produced from almost 600 different grape varieties, so whatever your taste, Italy will have a wine for you! But with so much choice, it can be difficult to know where to start when choosing an Italian wine. In this blog, we will explore some of the best and most popular Italian wines, and introduce you to some of the reduced calorie Italian wines we have available at DrinkWell. 

What does DOC mean on wine, and other labelling

If you have ever had a bottle of Italian wine, chances are you have come across the term ‘DOC’ on the label - and you would be forgiven for not knowing what it means! In simple terms, DOC is one of four classifications of Italian wines that were introduced in 1963 as a way of labelling and legally protecting Italian wines. The four classifications are: 

Denominazione di origine (DO) This classification is rarely used, and translates to “designation of origin”
    Indicazione geografica tipica (IGT) Translating to “indication of geographical typicality”, IGT wines are labelled with their place of creation, but do not meet the requirements of the stricter DOC or DOCG classifications
    Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) Meaning “controlled designation of origin” when translated to English, ‘DOC’ requires that a wine satisfies a defined quality standard, as well as being produced within the specified region. There are specific rules around permitted grape varieties, harvest yields, minimum ageing and minimum alcohol content so that consumers can be assured that their wine is of a high standard
      Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita (DOCG) The most superior wine classification in Italy, DOCG translates to “controlled and guaranteed designation of origin”. Whilst also meeting the high quality standards of DOC, DOCG wines are analysed and tasted by a government–licensed judgement panel before being bottled. You can’t ask for a much better seal of approval than that!

        Types of Italian Red Wine

        Seeing as the majority of Italian food pairs amazingly with red wine, it's not surprising that Italy is most famous for its red wines. Italian red wines vary hugely in flavour - tending to be fruitier in the South and earthier in the North. Below are some of the most popular red wines from Italy. 

        Barolo Wines and Barbaresco Wines

        Barolo and Barbaresco wines are both made from the prestigious Nebbiolo grape, which is notoriously difficult to grow successfully.  Both wines originate from two areas near Alba in Langhe, which is a hilly area in Piedmont, northern Italy. More Nebbiolo is planted here than anywhere else in the world. Both areas  have been labelled as DOCG areas, meaning that only Nebbiolo is permitted to be grown there and winemaking must follow certain guidelines. 

        Both wines are intense and complex, with high tannin and acidity levels. On the nose, you can expect aromas of roses, cherries and perfume from both Barolo and Barbaresco. However, there are some key differences between Barolo and Barbaresco wines, owing mainly to the differing soils and ageing requirements. For example, Barbaresco has more nutrients in the soil, and subsequently the tannins are not as powerful as in Barolo.  Barbaresco is generally the more gentle of the two. 

        Chianti and Chianti Classico Wine

        A Chianti wine is any wine produced in the Chianti region of central Tuscany. The Chianti wine region stretches from Florence in the north to Siena in the South. Wines produced here are made primarily from the Sangiovese grape, but can also contain Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. White grapes are not permitted to be grown in Chianti. Chianti and Chianti Classico grow the second highest amount of grapes in Italy, only behind the Prosecco region. 

        The Sangiovese grape gives Chianti wines a transparent ruby hue, and flavours commonly include red fruits, herbs, spice, violets, and earth. The tannin level found in a Chianti increases with the quality of the wine, starting at a medium level. Chianti Classico DOCG is considered to be the highest quality Chianti offering, and regulations state that it has to be made from a blend of at least 80% Sangiovese and up to 20% other grapes, such as Caniolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. If you are looking for the creme de la creme of Chianti wines, opt for a Chianti Classico Riserva, which is produced using only the best Sangiovese grapes and is matured for at least 24 months. 

        Barbera Wine

        Barbera is one of Italy’s most popular grapes, and can be found in a variety of different regions across the country. Regions where Barbera is commonly planted include Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Campania, Sicily, and Sardinia. Barbera vines that are centuries old still exist in many of these regions.

        Barbera grapes produce bright, cherry-red wines with low tannin and high acidity. The wines are commonly left to age for 2 to 4  years and produced using oak barrels. You can expect to find fruit flavours such as strawberry, blackberry, plum, and cherry, often coupled with notes of vanilla.

        Italian Red Wines available at DrinkWell 

        At DrinkWell, we source excellent wines that will take your palate around the world. And better yet, all our wines are lower calorie, so you can enjoy them with no worries. Below are  just a couple of our best lower calorie italian red wines to wet your appetite. 

        Uggiano Chianti Riserva ‘Lucere’

        This is an absolutely mouthwatering juicy red that is perfect to enjoy with a Florentine steak. This wine is meticulously crafted, with the fresh must pumped over the grape skins twice a day to give the wine it’s colour and tannin. It is refined for over 2 years in total, leading to a delectable aroma of violet, bramble, dried fruit and a hint of toasty oak. What’s more, in one 125ml glass you will find just 83 calories and 0.13g of sugar - exceptionally low values for a red wine of this quality. You can pick up a bottle from the DrinkWell website for £11.99.

        Colomba Bianca, 'Kore', Sicily Nero d'Avola 2019

        Colomba Bianca is the largest producer of organic wine in the whole of Italy. As well as being organic, this 14% ABV wine is gluten free and suitable for vegans.  Juicy blackberry and ripe plum flavours are beautifully balanced by velvety tannins. With just 86 calories per 125ml glass, we can’t think of any reason for you to not give this one a try. Order yourself a bottle from the DrinkWell website for £13.49 today. 

        Types of Italian White Wine 

        Whilst many people may associate Italy with red wine, it actually also produces many classy and popular white wines. Let's have a look at some of what Italy has to offer for the white wine fans among us.  

        Pinot Grigio

        By far the most well known Italian white wine is Pinot Grigio. Made from Pinot Gris grapes, this zesty white wine is commonly produced in Northeastern regions including Lombardy, Veneto, Alto Adige, Friuli, and Trentino. Alto Adige DOC wines are widely considered to be one of the best Pinot Grigios.

        In general, a Pinot Grigio is light, dry and crisp, often with a punchy acidity. The citrus flavours often found in a Pinot Grigio makes them the perfect accompaniment to fish, salads, and light chicken dishes. Pinot Grigio is a good all round wine, and if you drink white wine chances are you are well acquainted with it already!

        Soave Wine

        Soave is a dry white wine from the Veneto region in Northern Italy. It is primarily made from Garganega grapes, which are traditionally grown around the medieval village of Soave (hence the name!). Trebbiano di Soave and Chardonnay grapes are also permitted in the Soave zone, which has both DOC and DOCG classified regions within it. 

        Most Soave wines are dry and still, though sparkling appellations are also permitted. Wines are generally crisp, light, or medium bodied and tend to age very well. Flavours you can expect to find in a bottle of Soave wine include peach, orange zest, pear, or apple. Soave pairs well with chicken, Italian seafood, and gnocchi. 

        Pecorino Wine

        Although the first thing you think of when you hear the name Pecorino might be the cheese, it is also the name given to a beautifully crisp and aromatic Italian white wine. Pecorino grows well in a variety of conditions, so you can find it in a number of regions in Italy, including Marche, Abruzzo, Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio. The grape is used to produce both DOCG and DOC wines. 

        Pecorino grapes are sweet and as such tend to produce quite high alcohol wines with high acidity. You can expect to find flavours of soft fruits, herbs, and florals. Incidentally, the wine pairs well with Pecorino cheese, as well as white fish and chicken dishes. 

        Italian White Wines available at DrinkWell 

        Tempted by an Italian white? You’re in the right place - DrinkWell have a large selection of lower calorie Italian White Wines available to order from our website. 

        Piattini Pinot Grigio

        Sourced directly from the rolling hillside vineyards of Friuli and the Veneto, Piattini Pinot Grigio contains just 79 calories per 125ml glass. What’s more, it is completely carb free, making it perfect for those following a keto diet. With a zesty citrus and lightly floral aroma, we think this wine is perfect for enjoying with light meals, picnics, or summer barbecue dishes such as starters, salads, fish, and grilled chicken. Best of all, this wine comes at the great price of £9.99 per bottle when purchased from the DrinkWell website.

        Ca’ di Ponti Catarratto, IGT Terre Siciliane

        Hailing from western Sicily, this is a ripe and versatile dry white wine with attractive aromatics of peach, honeysuckle and a hint of fennel. The wine is made from Catarratto grapes, which is the most planted grape variety in Sicily. It is suitable for vegans and for a gluten free diet, as well as containing just 81 calories per 125ml. Why not bring a bit of Sicilian sunshine to your life and order yourself a bottle from the DrinkWell website for £8.99. 

        Prosecco  

        Probably one of Italy’s biggest success stories (well, aside from pizza and pasta of course!), Prosecco has gained huge popularity worldwide - a staggering 400 million bottles were sold across the globe last year! Prosecco is a DOC and DOCG white wine that is produced exclusively in Italy. Specifically, Prosecco is produced predominantly in the northern Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions of Italy. Like with Champagne in France, Prosecco can only legally be produced within this specific area of Italy, and it is named after the village ‘Prosecco’ in Trieste.

        Prosecco is made from the Glera grape, and is nearly always sparkling or semi-sparkling in style - though still versions are also permitted. It is produced using a method called ‘Charmat’, which is a much cheaper and quicker production method than that used to make Champagne, which explains why it tends to be a much more affordable fizz option than Champagne. 

        In terms of taste, Prosecco tends to have strong fruit and flower flavours, coupled with quite high acidity levels. It has light, frothy bubbles and is often described as vibrant and fresh. There are 4 sweetness levels of Prosecco: Brut, Extra-Dry, Dry, and Demi-Sec. Demi-Sec is the sweetest, and subsequently contains the most sugar, whilst Brut Proseccos are very dry and contain little or no residual sugar.

        Prosecco available at DrinkWell 

        Here at DrinkWell, we know how loveable Prosecco is. That’s why we have worked tirelessly to bring you the best lower calorie Prosecco options currently on the market. Below are some of our current favourites. 

        Skinny Prosecco 1754

        Skinny Prosecco 1754 is a lighter alternative to the best selling product, Prosecco 1754, containing up to 60% less sugar than the original. The grapes are grown on the south facing hillsides of a boutique vineyard in Veneto, Northern Italy. The winery where Skinny Prosecco 1754 is produced is over 400 years old, helping to create a truly authentic product. Skinny Prosecco is gluten free and suitable for vegans, and one 125ml glass will contain 85 calories. You can find Skinny Prosecco on the DrinkWell website for £14.99 per bottle. 

        Skinny Witch Prosecco Brut DOCG

        This DOCG Prosecco is our lowest calorie Prosecco, with just 69 calories per 125ml. Skinny Witch delivers the perfect balance between quality hand-picked grapes and decreased sugar content, forcing an increased use of grapes. This gives a naturally sweet sugar-free and carb-free sparkling wine. Why not order a bottle ready for your next celebration for £16.99 per bottle. 

         

        Italian wines deliver a world of flavour, which you don’t need to sacrifice if you are looking to save a few calories while exploring new varieties. So why not give the lower calories wines listed above a try! 

        For more lower calorie wines from around the world, visit the DrinkWell collection.

        Browse All DrinkWell Wines

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