Italy is home to approximately 1,500 grape varieties. This means Italy produces a large variety of wines in a large variety of styles. Italian wines are ideal for any time of day, any time of the year, and any cuisine. Furthermore, Italy is home to many wines that taste far above their price.
Winter has set in. It’s time to warm up with some delicious winter cuisine and Italian wine. You don’t have to break the bank to find good Italian wine. Sure, we all love a good Barolo, Brunello, or Amarone. But today I have three delicious Italian reds, perfect for winter or really any time of year, that are all under $25. Furthermore, they each deliver way above their price point! I would gladly drink any of these three wines again.
The Cusumano family grows their grapes on the slopes of Mt. Etna where the soil is black, rich, and dynamic. The vineyards are located at 4,000ft of the 11,000ft active volcano. Crafted of 100% Nerello Mascalese, an indigenous Sicilian grape, this wine is expressive of the terroir of the region.
2014 Cusumano ‘Alta Mora’ Etna Rosso Sicily Italy ($24): 100% Nerello Mascalese; clear pale ruby; clean medium- aromas of violets, bright red berries, soft spice, savory herbal notes, minerality, and vanilla; medium- acidity tannins and body, medium finish; a delicate wine that was clean and very pleasing with bright fruit and soft earth notes, overall it was softer than I was expecting but lovely.
Astoria is known as the largest private producer of Prosecco DOCG in Italy. However, they are more than just Prosecco. With vineyards located in the heart of Veneto, just 50 miles north of Venice, Astoria’s portfolio includes Pinot Grigio, red and white Moscatos, and some beautiful Pinot Noirs, including this wine that knocked my socks off. Would I buy an $11 Pinot Noir from the US? Unlikely, but this wine rocked.
2015 Astoria Caranto Pinot Noir delle Venezie IGT Italy ($11): 100% Pinot Noir; clearn medium ruby; clean medium- aromas of tart cranberries, raspberries, pomegranate, white tea, red licorice, minerality, dusty earth; medium- acidity, medium tannins, medium-finish; tart red fruit, silky mouthfeel, balanced with pleasing rustic quality; a huge value and a really delicious wine that I would gladly drink again.
Finally, we travel to the top of Italy where it borders Austria and Switzerland to the land of Alto Adige and the winery of Peter Zemmer. Recognized as one of Alto-Adiges most respected wine makers, the winery was founded in 1928 by Peter’s grandfather in the tiny village of Cortina. The expressive character of the wines comes from the vineyard and the organic practices allows the flavors of the grapes to shine in the glass. These are truly beautiful wines.
2015 Peter Zemmer Rollhutt Pinot Noir Alto Adige-Sudtirol Italy ($15): 100% Pinot Noir; clear pale garnet; clean medium- aromas of tart cranberries and pomegrantates, dried savory herbs, dusty earth, and minerality; medium+ acidity, tannins and body light with a medium- finish, a tart and light expression of Pinot Noir that was easy drinking and quite delicious, a thoughtfully crafted wine, elegantly understated and lovely.
In addition to traditional Italian fare consider pairing these wines with easy split pea soup, Vietnamese meatballs with sautéed vegetables and brown basmati rice bowls, and grilled rosemary chicken farro risotto.
These wines and dishes are sure to warm up the coldest of winter nights! And for less than $25 each these wines are a steal! Cheers!