Quick Recipes and Easy

Italian Wines of a Different Sort

Italy is known for more than a few fine wineries producing epic vintages. There is another vintage, but, that is just as excellent and deserves a mention of its own.

Everyone is aware of champagne – the bubbly that is characteristic of the Champagne region of France. But, many people mislabel all such wines as “champagne”, when that is not really the case. There are many different types of bubbly wine, with different varieties coming from such diverse places as Italy, California and Spain. Italian wines of this type are especially unique – their character and flavor is distinctly different from champagne.

These Italian wines, also known as Spumante, have been produced in Italy since the Roman era – long before France ever bottled its first champagne. There are many different varieties within the realm of Italian bubbly wines with some having a drier, crisp taste and others being sweeter and less like the flavor of champagne. Most are produced in the northern regions of Italy, such as Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto.

A huge difference between champagne and Italian wines is the way that they are fermented. Champagne is fermented in the bottle, resulting in the bubbly quality it is known for. Spumante wines from Italy, on the other hand, are fermented by a different method known as the Charmat method. In this method, the wine is fermented in a tank for it’s second fermentation period (the period that produces bubbles), instead of in its own bottle.

Italian Spumante wines are also often consumed when younger, as the qualities of Italian wines do not hold up as well to aging. The younger consumption age works well with the most common types of Spumante wines, such as Asti. Asti, in earlier times known as a lower-class sweet type of bubbly wine, today is considered to be of much better quality. It pairs well with strong cheeses, such as Gorgonzola. Another variety worth trying is the Franciacorta, the only bubbly wine fermented in the bottle in Italy. Franciacorta is known as the star of Italy’s Spumante wines and has smaller bubbles and a milder taste than most of the others. It pairs well with the same foods as champagne – fresh fruit and other milder flavors.

Spumante wines are a fantastic way to experience bubbly alcohol without having to break the bank on expensive, French made champagne. The different varieties also make it simple to find one of these wines that pair well with any sort of entree or hors d’ oeuvre. From fish to cheese courses, and even with dessert – bubbly wine is an brilliant compliment.

Xavier Moldini is with

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