There's no denying the popularity of Pinot Grigio, though, and it's one that makes it's way onto the "wines by the glass" list of many bars and restaurants these days, as it's neutral and inexpensive. Do let me know your favourites on my Facebook page.
In Italian restaurants, I'll generally opt for a Gavi Di Gavi (made from the Cortese grape) if I feel like a white.
But one of the most amazing things about Italy is it's huge diversity of grape varieties. There's an astonishing range out there. And as I'm constantly urging you, my readers, to try something new, when I realised I was long overdue for an Italian based blog post, I thought I'd push myself to try something a bit less well known, too. Watch out for a post on Italian reds soon, as I continue my homework.
Italian wine can be a bit bewildering. Even having studied wine, I'm still amazed by the rich variety out there, and it can be hard to know where to begin.
I've selected 2 fairly different styles for you to explore.
There are probably less than 2000 acres of the grape across Italy, so it's definitely one if the lesser known varietals, yet, it was the first ever DOC in Italy in 1966, and was awarded Italy's top geographic status of DOCG in 1993. Italy has 73 DOCG designations at the time of writing.
I received this in an "Outside the Box" selection from the recently established Wine Cellar Club, the retail arm of trade suppliers Milton Sandford Wines. Until recently you could only find their wines in bars, restaurants and hotels, and at restaurant wine prices. I love trying new things so a case of 12 slightly off the beaten track wines seemed as good a way as any to try the (free membership) club. You'll definitely hear more about the other wines in the case here.
On the nose it was super light. A hint of citrus maybe, but this was clearly not going to be one of the pungent aromatic varietals I tend to favour. Perhaps all those years of mainlining chilli have damaged my capacity to appreciate the subtle.
Much less acidic than I expected from an Italian wine it's a fairly light and easy drinking style. I paired it with an impromptu picnic of vintage cheddar, cherry tomatoes and honey roast ham, with some mixed salted nuts. Who can be bothered cooking in this heat?
Mr Purple Teeth instantly picked up on the fact this is lighter in alcohol than he's used to, and not a flavour blockbuster (look, I've ruined his palate with chili too - sue me!) He thought it pleasant as an early evening tipple when you don't want to get too tipsy or overdo it and thought it worked well with nibbles like olive and nuts.
I'd feared the strong cheese might overwhelm the delicate flavours. Luckily the salty tang enhanced the wine's savoury note, though I think it worked best with the ham, and it fared well with the nuts. I reckon at 12.5% this could make a fresh white for Italian inspired picnics as a change from your regular PG. I just hope your fridge has a higher food to wine ratio than mine!
Did I mention that I like powerfully flavoured aromatic wines? This one seemed to fit the bill.
The nose was of candied fruit, perhaps those confected citrus peel sweets. Mr Purple Teeth reminisced about the 70s boiled sweet, pineapple chunks. There was a good body on it too, which he likes. Lucky for me he likes curves.
Mr Purple Teeth was a fan, but really he suggested drinking alone rather than with food because the abundance of sweet flavours may clash. His main complaint - too quaffable.
To me, this feels very well balanced, 13% alcohol is almost a surprise, it's harmonious & elegant and appealingly full of tropical fruit flavours and peach. Charentais melon perhaps? Some dried apricot? Some zing but not overtly acidic or overly mouthwatering. It has luxurious body (coming from the Greco) for under £8. I'm sure we'll buy this again if we ever get round to needing more wine. My fridge is groaning and my wine rack has expanded across every available surface in the kitchen, and somewhat beyond. Have I got a problem? Perhaps I need a wine fridge for my birthday?