Red wines are generally classified through the use of the darker varieties of grapes that are used as part of their production. While the moniker of red wine has stuck over the years, since drinks can actually be a range of colours, from intense violets typical of younger wines right through to the brick red that characterises more mature vintages. Some reds even become brown as they age further.
Over the years Italy has produced an enormous volume of red wines, many of which have entered the wine connoisseur’s lexicon and been recognised as some of the finest vintages that are available to the wine fan. Some of the most famous red wines have been favourites of royalty and celebrities throughout the ages, so we thought we would take a look at some of the most famous varieties of red to give you an idea of what you are getting when you make your purchase.
Perhaps the most famous of the Italian reds, the Barolo has already been featured a number of times on this very website. Tracing its lineage back hundreds of years, the Barolo has long been a favourite of everybody from the highest royalty right through to regular citizens.
The Barolo is also one of the most contentious wines of recent years, with the famed Barolo wars giving rise to both modernist and traditionalist crowds. Despite this split, many winemakers are determined to combine the best of both worlds and the various different techniques that can go into creating a Barolo means that it is one of the most diverse reds around. Traditional vs Modern. Make your choice or, better yet, enjoy the best of both!
Overall Rating – 9.5/10
Amarone is one of the more recent reds to achieve the much-sought DOCG classification, having been promoted to the standard back in December of 2009. This means that it doesn’t have the history that many of varieties of red do however that should not be considered a mark against the quality of the drink by any means.
In fact, Amarone is fast becoming one of the most popular reds available, with more than 8.5 million bottles having been sold in 2008. This popularity places it in fairly rarefied air, as there are few other reds on the market right now that can match it. Literally translated as The Great Bitter, Amarone is produced in the same region as Recioto, but is far less sweet to the taste. This makes it an extremely ripe and full-bodied example, which has more than a slight hint of raisin. The wine also has quite an intensive production method, with most vintages not even being made available to the public for five years after being produced. While this leaves plenty of room for error on the part of less experienced producers, the fact remains that there are few reds that can match a well-made Amarone.
Overall rating – 9.0/10
Tracing its origins to France, the Cabernet Sauvignon has long been a favourite of Italian winemakers since production of the grape spread outside of its native France. As the name suggests, it is most regularly used in the production of Cabernet, however the grape itself has a storied history that places it as one of the most important in the current wine manufacturing world.
The grape was first introduced to Italian wines in around 1820, with the Piedmont region playing host to the first vineyards to cultivate the fruit. Over the years it continued to increase in popularity to the point where it is almost as regularly used in Italy as it is in its native France. This all culminated in the 1970s when the grape hit front and centre when it was used as a component of the ‘Super Tuscan’ wine varieties that eschewed traditional practices and placed more of an emphasis on using modern production techniques and different grape varieties to create new wines that many believe exceed some of the old standards.
However, as Italian winemakers began to discover ways to blend the grape with native grapes it has continued to increase in popularity and is now used in the production of a number of reds, including its namesake Cabernet.
Rating – 8.0/10
Another variety of red that can trace its routes back to France, the Pinot Noir has fast become one of the most popular drinks for many true connoisseurs. The wine, which often goes under the moniker of Pinot Nero in Italy has been cultivated in a wide variety of areas that includes South Tyrol, Veneto and, of course, Tuscany.
Its Italian origins can be traced back as far as 1838, when a version of the wine named Bourgoigne Noir made an appearance on a wine list, however it didn’t begin to achieve notoriety in the region until the late 19th century. As well as being a fine example of a high quality red, it’s history and the fact that it has spread to many different regions throughout the world means that there are plenty of versions of the wine available for the dedicated drinker.
Of course, there are many other varieties of red wine that are available to purchase and this list is by no means the definitive example of the drink. In fact, it can be argued that a number of superb varieties have been missed from this particular compilation, making it a topic that is ripe for revisiting at some point in the near future.
For now we encourage everybody to consider examining a number of different varieties hat fall into the above classifications. After all, half of the fun of wine is discovering new tastes, textures and aromas that you may not have known about previously. Please do check out our wide array of red wines, as we have a large collection that is sure to satisfy any palette. In time we will examine more these wines, in addition to others, in more detail so be sure to keep checking back for more.