How To Tackle Italy’s Numerous Wine Denominations

Yesterday I posted the first wine from a tasting of Mountainous Italian Wines. It was a Alto Adige DOC wine. Now if like me you are a relative newbie to Italian wines you might be thinking where the hell is Alto Adige? Because the problem with Italy is that it has so many wine regions that it is impossible to remember them all. There are 408 DOPs (protected wine regions comprising of DOCG and DOC wine denominations) and God only knows how many IGT wine regions and table wines. It’s bad enough trying to remember the 70 Spanish DOPs, which at least are in a language I speak and to be honest I doubt I could list all of them either, there is no way 408 Italian phrases are going to be absorbed by my already overworked brain.

That’s why I started this blog to help me remember these things. So first of all forget the DOPs and IGTs. There’s too many of them. You’ll probably absorb some of the more famous ones, but not all of them without some serious hard work. It is easier to start with Italy’s twenty geographic regions. This is a number I can just about handle.

So I go to tastings that focus on one of the regions. Learn the types of wines they produce in that region: grapes varieties, processes used, type of terrain, climate etc. If it turns out I really like the wines of a specific region then it is worth my while to memorise DOCGs, DOCs and IGTs of that region so I can keep a look out for those wines. It is also worth while at this point to learn the differences in quality and taste of the denominations.

If it’s a region whose wines don’t appeal to me, like Tuscany (sorry I know this is a great wine region but it just doesn’t do it for my palate), then I don’t bother so much. I’ve just taken note that Chianti and the Sangiovese grape are to be avoided. Though I’m open to being shown different.

I’m slowly building a picture of which of the 20 Italian regions make wines best suited for my palate and the grapes used. The North East is winning right now. When I’m in a restaurant looking at the wine menu I will google the DOP or IGT on the bottle to see which region it is in and if it’s a region I like or one I’ve never tried then I’ll give it a go. That works for me for now.

Of course if you are even newer to Italian wines than I am you’re next question might be ‘how do I know which of the 20 Italian regions would suit my palate.’ The obvious answer to that is try them. However if you’re looking for a short cut those wonderful people at have got you covered. Check out their article ‘Italian Wine Map and Exploration Guide’.Click on image to open article by

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