Italian Wine Classification Guide
Modern Italy has built a strong reputation for producing very fine wines. Italy grows and exports the widest array of wines and is the home of some of the oldest wine producing regions in the world. Italian producers have improved wine making techniques and created stringent quality and production standards such as:
1. Denomination of Origin Controlled and Guaranteed (DOCG) This is the highest classification for Italian wines and very few Italian wines meet the standards needed to qualify in this category. The DOCG must pass a blind taste test for quality in addition to conforming to strict legal requirements. There are 33 DOCG’s in Italy, each has its own rules and regulations that a producer must meet in order to get the coveted pink and green labels proclaiming its own authenticity. Pink labels for red wines, and green for white. The rules include specifications on origin of the grapes, the soil it’s grown in and a limitation on the yield of production. There are also rules covering aging, bottling, and the wine making process. Some of the wines in the DOCG category are: Barbareso, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, Chiante and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Valtellina Superiore.
2. Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) There are over 300 DOC’s throughout Italy. The rules are about the same as DOCG except slightly more relaxed, usually the aging process is just a bit shorter and the price a little lower. Good examples of this group are Aglianico del Vulture, Bolgheri Sassicaia, DOC wines by the words Denominazione di Origine Controllata written directly on the bottle’s label.
3. Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) denotes wine from a specific region within Italy. Italian authorities provided a way for producers to obtain official recognition of their wines. This category was introduced in 1997 as a way of giving importance to wines that weren’t traditional Italian wines. The famous Super Tuscans are now IGT’s, this has promoted the innovation and creation of new interesting wines, using international grapes that aren’t allowed in the DOCG, and DOC categories.
Some of the most expensive wines in Italy such as the famous Tignanello and Sassicaia from the Bolgheri region of Tuscany. An IGT wine will have IGT printed on the label.
4. Vin da Tavola (VDT) means table wine. These are the wines produced for everyday needs of Italian wine drinkers. The bottle’s label includes the region where it was bottled, the amount of alcohol, and the amount of wine in the bottle. No vintage necessary. Due to stringent regulations on grapes and or wine making practices you may occasionally find some of Italy’s top wines included in this category possible you may stumble upon something spectacular.
Another house specialty is our stuffed breads, spinach, meat and pepperoni and fresh pizza dough. Other specialties are pepper frisseli and tarralli.
Vinturi Red Wine Aerator
Aerate red wine in seconds for better taste TheVinturi Aerator is clearly on the cutting edge of wine aerating.
When wine is poured in the Vinturi, it mixes just the right amount of
air with your wine at the precise moments. See-through aerators
help your wine to breathe instantly. The Vinturi Red Wine Aerator results in a better bouquet, enhanced flavor, and a smoother finish. The aerator comes with a no-drip base and a travel pouch. Acrylic. Aerators and bases are dishwasher safe. The travel pouch is machine washable.
Essentials of Tasting and Enjoying Wine
There’s a difference between Tasting and Drinking wine.
• To taste wine is to distinguish flavors on your pallet. Distinguishing the four elements of taste: Sweet, Sour, Salty and Bitter.
• To drink wine is to take into the mouth and swallow.
Five Basic steps in Tasting Wine
The color ranges between pale yellow green to brown. Older whites color tends toward brown. Brown color is a caution sign that the wine could be oxidized (bad). Varietals are different colors. I.E.: chardonnay is usually a color of yellow gold or a Pinot Grigio being a straw color.
The color ranges between a purple to brown. Purple being a sign of very young and fresh wine to rusty red brown or brick color tends to indicate a very mature wine. A brown only color usually indicates a very old, bad wine oxidized and not palatable.
WHY Swirl? It allows oxygen into the wine and releases bought and aroma. Also, try the Vinturi or an Eisch decanter.
Smell the wine at least 3 times. Each time you will get more information. Most people do not spend enough time concentrating on smell. Focus, on the smell. Ask yourself, what is the aroma telling me. White wines concentrate the varietal and smelling will enable you to differentiate each of the varitels.
Red wines are a little more difficult due to the variety of blends. If possible concentrate at first on the Sangiovese, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Attempt to memorize each of the smells, being unconcerned about terminology. While focusing on the smell you will be able to discern defective wine such as:
Vinegar – Acetic
Sherry – Oxidation
Wet/Moldy – Defective cork
Sulfur – To much Sulfur Dioxide
Note: It is said that 90% of taste is attributed to the smell.
Now is the time to use your taste buds, both sides of your tongue underneath, tip and back of your tongue. To taste wine (to evaluate) take in some wine and swirl in your mouth to cover all of your taste buds. (Taste for a minimum of 3 to 6 seconds) Evaluate:
• Sweetness – From the tip of your tongue.
• Acidity – On the sides of the tongue and the back of your throat.
• Bitterness – On the back of your tongue
• Fruit – Characteristics, the weight of the wine (body) in the middle of the tongue.
• Tannin – The sensation starts in the middle of the tongue. Tannin dries the palate. Excessive tannin can coat your pallet blocking the fruit. Tannin exists primarily in red wine and in some white wines that are aged in wood.
• After Taste – Is the overall taste and balance of the various components of the wine on your pallet. How long does the taste last, a few seconds or up to 3 minutes? Usually the taste of great wines last up to or more than 3 minutes.
As you taste, reflect on the taste and savor it. Now is the time to focus on a few specifics:
• What has this wine said to me?
• Body of the wine, is it light, medium or full bodied?
• Red wine, are the tannins mild, strong, astringent or is it balanced?
• White wine, is the acidity and or mineral, light, medium too much or is it balanced?
• Which component is the strongest: sweet, fruit, acid or tannin?
• Length of the taste—number of seconds or minutes?
• Is this a style or a wine that I enjoy and will purchase again?
You are the only one to judge the wines you like. Always remember the label, price, presentation, ambiance and friends can influence your perception of taste.