Month: March 2012

Reading an Italian Wine Label

Although most common of wine labels have a rectangular shape, some producers use more creative shapes and, in some cases, even break the label into two separate parts!

Strangely enough, the information printed on the wine label sometimes is of little help in understanding the kind of wine that one is drinking. This is especially true when our customers are novice, who might not be familiar with the definitions used in enology, or when the consumer is a non-Italian speaking is purchasing an Italian wine abroad.

Here you will find a reference key to common information printed on all Italian wine label. We hope this elementary approacht will be helpful when you venture into the Italian section of a wine shop.

To explain our short supplement, we have chosen three labels that are different in shape as well as in the amount of information printed on them.
To provide a common reference key, we have numbered the data printed on the 1998 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva Bosco label, the one that includes the greatest amount of information from 1 to 11. On the other two labels we have skipped the numbers for which no information is provided. Thus, the 2000 Korem Isola dei Nuraghi label from Argiolas is missing numbers 3 and 11, while the 1998 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Conte di Bregonzo label is missing numbers 6, 10 and 11.

1. Type of wine
2. Wine appellation
3. Additional denomination
4. Vintage year
5. Name of the wine
6. Color of the wine
7. Quantity in milliliters
8. Alcohol content by volume
9. Nation of origin (in our case, obviously Italy)
10. Bottling company data
11. Importer (this information is obviously missing from labels of Italian wines purchased in Italy).

I love…. Amarone, maybe we should order another bottle!

I was recently at dinner with my husband. Together we sat at a patio on 3rd St, a small fire pit going in front of us and a glass of Amarone in hand. It was a wonderful minute in time that we as two working parents rarely get to enjoy. I spoke in complete gratification, “The Big stars are so distant & beautiful.” My husband looked at me, and I looked at him, and he said, “I love… Amarone, maybe we should order another bottle!”

So maybe it wasn’t as adoring as I may have expected, yet I nodded in perfect agreement. The fact is, with all the talk of Barbersco, Barolo, Sangiovese, Aliganico and the amazing white wines of Pinot Grigio I really do love Amarone.

Amarone is a wine that is made by the hand of man through procedures such as Recieto (Appassimento), where the collected grapes are left to dry for months before being pressed.
This raises sugar (hence alcohol) levels and gives the wine a haunting level of depth, complexity and the ability to age. There is also Ripasso, which is a process where the newly fermented juice (usually Valpolicello) is passed back over the lees of an Amarone fermentation, which adds depth and complexity to an otherwise fresh and easy drinking wine. Be warned, however, that in the hands of some producers, these techniques are used to cover up an otherwise inferior wine. But in the hands of quality producers, they can build works of art. The Vento is the perfect wine for a lover of big, bold Italian taste, especially when you are in the mood for self-indulgence instead of seriousness.

When speaking of Amarone however, these can sometimes be hard wines to recognise. Some Amarone are big, rich and with a level of residual sugar that comes through in the finished product. Others are fermented to be completely dry and show a bitter quality marked by high alcohol. This can make it difficult to know what you’re going to get when you purchase a bottle. And then there is the most common issue with Amarone, what foods to pair with it.

So what’s a wine drinker/collector to do? First, it is important to understand which style you prefer and, once you know, to stick with like-minded producers. As for pairing, most people will offer powerful cheeses (such as blue cheese) or desserts with concentrated flavors but moderate sweetness. In many cases, Amarone ends up being a wine that is enjoyed on its own, simply because it can be so difficult to fit into a meal.

My favorite paring of Amarone is with a creamy Risotto. I promise you will be blown away by how well Amarone paired with risotto . Here is a link of the Amarones that we have for you to enjoy.