Trying to compile a list of the absolute best Italian wine can be something of a contentious issue as in many cases the determining factors will be personal taste and the quality of a particular vintage at any one time. That means that this small list of some of the best wines is by no means definitive and is kept as general as possible.
What it does cover is wines that have attained a certain level of international popularity and works on the basis that a popular wine has achieved that level of popularity due to the fact that it is of a high quality, which in turn makes it more desirable. International recognition also plays a part on determining what wines make this particular list and, if nothing else, it should act as a great starting point for those who are new to the world of wine and want to get some indication about which Italian wines are worth trying out before they start exploring their own tastes just a little bit more.
So, without any further ado, here is our list of the top five wines to have gained international popularity that are also simply excellent wines to try.
Lambrusco comes in many different forms, as it can run the gamut from being exceptionally dry right through to being very sweet depending on the production methods of the winemaker in question. On rare occasions the grape can even be used to make a sparkling wine in much the same style as champagne, though most winemakers tend to favour the still variants.
Lambrusco makes this list both because the wines are of a high quality in most cases, plus they offer variety within the grape itself that most other wines are unable to compete with. Furthermore, it is also extremely popular on an international level, particularly in the United States where it was amongst the highest selling Italian wines during the 1970s and 80s. At one point, more than 13 million cases of Lambrusco were being shipped to the country annually.
While that popularity level has lowered a little in recent years, it is still enjoyed by millions of people throughout the world. The sweeter varieties especially have achieved a level of international acclaim that many other wines struggle to achieve.
The subject of the infamous ‘Barolo Wars’ has long maintained a reputation as one of the greatest Italian wines and today it is known for the deep and rich textures that ensure it makes the perfect complement that many different types of food.
A great addition to any dinner party, Barolos differ depending on the production methods used. Traditional Barolos tend to be high in tannins and have a more complex flavour, whereas those produced using more modern methods tend to be a little bit sweeter, which in turn makes them more palatable for international consumers.
Barolo has seen increasing levels of popularity over the last twenty years or so, with production reaching a peak of about 10 million bottles in the mid-2000s. This marks it out as one of the most popular Italian wines as well as one of the best.
Prosecco has quickly risen to prominence, especially on the international stage, as a wonderful celebratory drink that is perfect for practically aby big occasion. In many countries it is often compared to champagne, both in terms of quality and overall taste, which has led to it becoming a popular fixture at weddings and parties.
In its native Italy the drink is seen less as a celebratory drink and more as a light refreshment that can be consumed with smaller meals or on its own. This ease of consumption has led to it becoming one of the most popular wines on the domestic level as well as in other countries and Prosecco production is currently extremely high as a result.
Today more than 150 million bottles are produced every year and that number doesn’t look like it’s going to be falling anytime soon. When it comes to sheer volume of production there are few Italian wines that can compete, however, quality has also played an enormous part in this expansion and the best Proseccos are some of the greatest wines in the world.
Often recognised as one of, if not the, greatest red wines in the entire world, Chianti has been popular for decades amongst wine lovers. It is often seen as one of the most refined and high-class Italian wines and is a firm fixture at dinner parties and important events.
Much like Barolo, Chianti has been subject to controversy as traditionalists clashed with the innovators of the ‘Super Tuscan’ period. While this means that there are various types of Chianti currently available on the market, the good news is that this versatility means that there is now something for everyone that falls under the designation.
The Super Tuscans in particular have achieved worldwide acclaim and generally feature a slightly fruitier taste that is more palatable to an international market. Regardless, both types of Chianti continue to maintain a high level of popularity and are sure to impress during any gathering.
One of the most popular white wine variations in the world, it can almost be guaranteed that a Pinot Grigio will be on the menu at practically any location that serves wine, from bars through to high class restaurants.
This versatility has allowed it to maintain a level of popularity that few other Italian wines can compete with, though the connoisseur will note that there are so many variations made using the grape, from so many different countries, that it can often be difficult to nail down an Italian variant.
Regardless, if you are a fan of white wine then it is likely you have run into a bottle or two made using this grape. It also enjoys sustained popularity in the UK, where it is commonly amongst the most popular white wines sold in the country no matter what year the figures are examined.