We don’t believe that anybody decides to buy a bottle of Italian wine while disregarding the quality of said wine. However, if there’s one thing that 2021 has taught us, it’s that consumers are now a lot more discerning with their choices than they previously were.
Of course, several factors play into this.
The wealth of information that exists online about Italian wine and its producers certainly plays a part. Still, there’s no denying that this shift in focus towards higher quality vintages has accelerated due to the pandemic. With limited funds to play with, many wine lovers don’t want to take a chance on a bottle before knowing if it’s of high quality. Doing so could mean wasting their money on an Italian wine that doesn’t work for them.
They want to find quality wines, as we’re sure you do too.
Of course, trying to pick one bottle from the thousands available can feel like a mammoth task. How can you figure out which Italian wines are of a quality high enough for you to justify a purchase during a period where money is a little tighter than it used to be?
That’s where this article comes in.
We’re going to focus on some of the key signs to look out for when searching for high-quality wine. Finding them usually means that you’re on the right track.
Sign #1 – It Has Notes That You Enjoy
Before you start your search for an Italian wine, take a moment to reflect on the flavours that you enjoy from other foods and drinks. For example, you may find the sharp burst from a lemon refreshing when others find it sour. Perhaps you have a fondness for the smoky taste that comes from barbecuing meat, while others may enjoy sweeter or cleaner flavours.
All of these little preferences are clues to the types of Italian wine you will enjoy.
Every wine has a bouquet and flavour profile. This means that all wines have little notes of various flavours and scents that act both as their unique signature and as a sign to you about whether you’ll enjoy the wine.
Once you understand which flavours you’re drawn to, a little research will tell you if the Italian wine you’re looking at is high-quality or, more importantly, has the qualities that appeal to you. Research the notes that feature heavily for the wine and check them against your own tastes. If you find notes that you know you enjoy, this is a good sign that the wine will suit you.
Sign #2 – The Wine Has the Right Information on the Back Label
The front label on any bottle of wine is designed to entice you. The producer’s logo and fancy font are both intended to catch the eye. Usually, the front label will also tell you about the wine’s certification, such as if it is a DOC or IGT wine.
However, it’s the back label where a lot of the most useful information resides. The challenge here is that the back label differs from bottle to bottle. Where front labels are consistent in the information they deliver, back labels can include anything from the producer’s story through to pairing notes and information about the bouquet.
All of this is useful information for determining if a wine is of high quality. For example, a producer that has hundreds of years of history must be doing something right to have existed for so long. Any awards shared on the back label also act as an indicator of quality. The main point is that you should always check the back label, if one exists. Don’t ignore it as supplementary information, as it’s this information that tells you more about the wine than the flashier front label.
Sign #3 – There Isn’t a Ton of Marketing Lingo
Sticking with labels, you can learn a lot about a wine from the language the producers use to try to sell it to you. You’ll often see information about how the wine you’re holding is a “Winemaker’s Selection” or a “Gold Standard Wine” or words to a similar effect.
The reality is that these words have no real meaning. They’re just clever phrases a marketing team has created to try and make the wine seem appealing.
Now, the presence of such phrases does not mean that the wine is low-quality.
Instead, this marketing jargon is simply not an indicator of quality, one way or the other.
However, the lack of it could tell you that a producer is so confident in the quality of their wine that they don’t feel the need to resort to such marketing techniques. Again, research is your friend but the lack of marketing speak is often a subtle indicator of confidence in the quality of an Italian wine.
Sign #4 – The Year
Most producers create the same wines year after year. This can lead to the assumption that, for example, a 2013 version of a wine is the same as the 2014 version.
This is not the case.
All sorts of factors affect the quality of grapes over the course of the year. In fact, this is exactly why producers specify the year on their bottles. They allow you to research what was happening during that year so you have some indication of the quality of the wine. For example, you may research a year to find that winemakers had to struggle with unseasonal frosts. This would naturally have an effect on the grapes, which may mean the wine isn’t as good as a previous vintage. Of course, your research could also reveal the producers enjoyed perfect growing conditions, which means the vintage should be the most high-quality example of that particular wine possible.
The Final Word
Ultimately, it all comes down to research. While a bottle of Italian wine can provide hints about its quality, the only way to know for sure is to research what you have in your hands.
Thankfully, this is easier to do than ever before thanks to the internet and its availability on a multitude of devices. So, if you’re determined to go for quality above all else, dedicate some time to research to ensure you don’t get stung.
I’m a passionate about good wine and good cooking.
I like to keep me updated and share with my online friends my gastronomic knowledge.