We all love Italian wines…
But we also all have our favourites. If you asked any ten people to choose the Italian wine that they love the most, you could very well get two different answers. After all, there’s so much variety in the industry that it’s easy to come up with a list of wines just based on different people’s personal preferences.
So…we’re not going to do that.
Instead, we’re going to take a 10,000ft overview of the Italian wine industry. Instead of trying to break things down by individual preferences, we’re going to look at countrywide preferences.
In other words, we’re going to pick out the top Italian wine seller in a range of different countries and try to explain why this wine is the top choice for that country.
And what better country to start with than the home of the Italian wines that you drink.
Italy – Chianti
Barolo may well be the King of Wines, but when it comes to pure pedigree there are no others that can stand against Chianti. This type of wine has existed for centuries and it’s the product of one of the country’s most famous wine regions.
In fact, Chianti is so popular that a change to the traditional way of making it caused a schism in the entire Italian industry. When the Super Tuscans started to appear in the 1970s, many an Italian just couldn’t stomach the fact that producers were making changes to one of their most revered wines. People railed against the likes of Tignanello and its ilk, which is why it took years for the Super Tuscans to get their own DOC designation.
That’s the power of the love that Italians have for classic Chianti.
In fact, this power is so great that Chianti is one of the top-selling Italian wines in the world. Even Hannibal Lecter loves the stuff, albeit with a little bit of liver and some fava beans…
So, we know what Italy loves the most, although it’s obviously a close run thing. But what about a few other countries?
The United Kingdom – Prosecco
The UK’s love of Prosecco is well documented. For years, it has been the top selling Italian wine in the country. Clearly, the British love a bit of the bubbly, but they’re also not keen to spend on the more expensive Champagne.
That’s not to say that Prosecco is simply a cut-price version of Champagne. We’d confidently stack the best of this Italian wine against the best of the French sparkler and feel pretty confident about it. But the higher accessibility of Prosecco has certainly helped to make it a British darling.
Now, you’ve probably heard that Prosecco sales have dropped in the UK in recent years. It still stands as the country’s most popular wine, but this drop also raises some questions.
Is Prosecco going to find itself losing its position to a different wine in the coming years? Or is the decrease in sales a more general indication that people in the UK aren’t buying as much wine as they used to?
Or…is it a temporary blip and we’ll see Prosecco storming back with even stronger sales in a few years’ time.
We can only wait and see when it comes to getting answers to those questions.
The United States
Of course, the US has its own wine industry, which has managed to rise in stature in recent years to become one of the more powerful in the world.
But when it comes to the Italian wines that they love, two stand out as the most popular.
First, we have Chianti. Now, we’ve already waxed lyrical on why the Italians love this wine so much, so we won’t go into it for the US. We imagine that the level of prestige attached to the wine, in addition to its quality, have a definite effect.
The second wine we have here is Brunello, which may be a bit of a surprising favourite for some of you.
That is until you see the grape that’s used to make the wine. You see, Brunello is made using 100% Sangiovese. And for those who know their Chianti, you know that Sangiovese is also the main grape used in that wine.
So, it’s pretty clear that those in the US have a certain fondness for the taste of a very specific grape. So much so that the grape is regularly grown in US vineyards to this day, though you could argue that its quality does not match that of the Italian original.
Russia – Asti
A while back, we wrote about how the Italian wine industry is making more inroads into Russia.
The country, as a whole, has been fairly slow to adopt wines as a favoured drink. Of course, the stereotype is that Russians love their vodka more than any other drink. However, we think that wine is definitely starting to become more beloved in one of the largest nations in the world.
As for the specific type of wine, Russians seem to lean more towards Asti.
Yes, we have another sparkling wine. And we think that the wine’s popularity in Russia is a reflection of Prosecco’s popularity in the UK. It’s affordable and accessible, while offering a high level of quality.
We’d also imagine that the producers of Asti wines have perhaps worked a little harder to establish themselves in Russia than other wine producers.
The interesting thing here is that Russia is still a fairly new market for the Italian wine industry. While Asti is the frontrunner right now, it will be interesting to see if the country’s tastes change in the coming years.
The Final Word
It’s clear that the Italian wine industry is one of the most revered in the world. And the popularity of so many wines in so many different countries is proof of that.
That’s interesting is how tastes will change over the next few decades. If we were to write this article in 20 years, would we see the same wines making an appearance?
It’s an interesting question to ponder.
But in the meantime, you can find all of these wines on the Xtrawine store, if you want to sample them yourself.