Shmorgasbord of Grapes
Italy has over 2,000 indigenous varieties, 20 wine regions, and almost 1 million
vineyards. The reds of Italy are plentiful. Beyond Barolo and Chianti lie a host
of delicious and affordable red wines. The majority of Italian red wine is not
imported, but consumed throughout the country by the Italians themselves. For
Italy, wine is food, and drinking wine without food or eating food without wine
is an anomaly.
A few exported Italian reds of note:
Lambrusco, from Emiglia-Romana, a light
red, slightly fizzy, and best served cold. These wines are unique and lovely.
Amarone, a wine made in the Veneto region from the Valpolicella grape, produces
a dense, raisin-like red wine, produced from very ripe, dried out grapes. The
Valpolicella grape also makes lighter red wines from the region of the same
name - Valpolicella. Down in Abruzzi, the red wine of note is the Montalpulciano
d'Abruzzo. Here, the grape is Montapulciano, not to be confused with Vino Nobile
di Montalpulciano of Italy - that's made with a Sangiovese clone in Tuscany.
Montapulciano d'Abruzzo can be somewhat rustic, but it's a great value for the
round, red, fleshy fruit it gives in the mouth. Easy drinking and none too tannic
Summing it up
Other Reds: Lambrusco, from Emiglia-Romana, Amarone, from Veneto, Valpolicella from Valpolicella
(in Veneto), Montalpulciano d'Abruzzo from Abruzzi.