Friday, July 27, 2012

How-To: Read an Italian Wine Label

Like so many of the Old World wine regions, Italian wine labels can be very confusing to American consumers. In addition to the foreign language, Italian grapes are seldom seen outside Italy and can be entirely unfamiliar to New World wine drinkers. Like most wine labels, however, there is a logic--for those who can follow it.

Look for "Denominazione di Origine Controllata", or DOC, the defined quality grape-growing regions in Italy. Even better is the "Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita", or DOCG, designation.

The label will always include information on:
  •   The winemaker (here, Sainsbury's)
  •   The region, where applicable. Popular regions include Piedmont, Fruili, Veneto, Tuscany, and Puglia. (here, it's Abruzzo)
  •   The grape used, the name of the proprietary blend, or the name of a regional style (here, Montepulciano): Popular grapes include Muscato, Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, and Sangiovese.
  •   The alcohol content (here, 12%)
Once you are able to distinguish the various parts of a wine label, you will be much more confident knowing what your getting inside the bottle. 

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