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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Learning about Italian Wine

June Forkner-Dunn, PhD, has been giving us some lessons on Italian wine as part of our Mediterranean Food Course in Italy. We also had the opportunity to visit a couple of wineries; the Mastroberadino Winery and the Ettore Sammarco Winery.

We learned that most of the wines in Southern Italy are white wines and made from the Falanghina or the Greco de Tufo grape. We also learned there is a strict rating system for wines. Here is some clarification on the wine rating system from “Understanding Italian Wine Labels”.

  • Table wine The first is a table wine rating called, Vino da Tavola. This label rating is put on wines that are made with the least amount of restrictions on the wine maker. Most of the locals drink wine from this category. They are generally the least expensive but this category also includes the most expensive and highly rated wines from Italy.
  • DOC (Denominazinione di Origine Controllata) This wine is produced in the area of the vineyard and is stated on the label. The wines are usually respected and command a medium to high price tag.
  • DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) This label insures that the wine has been produced under strict regulations, state there area of origin, and the bottle has a government seal. These wines obtain a medium to high price tags.

There is also a new category called “IGT”. This means the wine doesn’t fit into the other three official categories.

Visiting a winery with a wine expert (such as June) allowed us to visit areas within the winery that most don't get to experience. The tours also provided us with the opportunity to taste wines most regular visitors don't get, such as their reserved and aged wines.

We also had the opportunity to taste wine that was made the old fashion way….with people squishing the grapes with their feet and not using the new modern wine making techniques. This was an interesting experience that allowed us to compare a very simple wine with other more complex (and better tasting) wines.