Italian wine categories

Italian flagItaly is the world's largest producer of wine, producing 65 million bottles of it every year. And as about 4.5 million of these are exported to the UK then the chances of coming across an Italian wine in a restaurant, supermarket or garage forecourt shop are extremely high. So it makes sense to understand what you’re getting before deciding to buy one of the multi-million number of bottles available. And the easiest way to do that is to read the wine label.

Few Italian wine bottle labels show the grape variety the wine inside was made of, so the best way of deciding whether you’re getting value for money is to take a shufty at the three or four letter acronym that shows the wine’s quality level.

Aldi Pinot GrigioIf you spot DOCG on the label then you know you’ve got a wine produced under strict government regulations. Demoninazione di Origine Controllata Garantita indicates wine of the highest quality level – and that’s guaranteed, or Garantita.

Without the Garantita the wine becomes DOC, or Demoninazione di Origine Controllata. This specifies that the wine comes from a specific vineyard, locality or region and is produced using traditional methods. These wines are usually of very good quality.

Yet another quality category is Indicazione Geografica Tipica. IGT wines are similar in style and quality to French ‘wine of the region’ or Vins de Pays wines and make very good everyday drinking.

789 Pinot GrigioPG Wine Reviews

Edizione 789 Italian Pinot Grigio 2015

£4.85 Sainsbury's

Flavours of apple pie, lemon and peach.

Aldi Venturer Italian Primitivo di Puglia

£4.99 Aldi

Chocolately and spicy.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Terre di Chieti Pecorino 2015

£7 Sainsbury’s

It may be labelled the same as the Italian cheese but it is fact a very nice white wine. Light flavours of apple and peach.

Adeletto Prosecco

£9.99 Co-op

Italian bubbles that taste of lemon and flowers.

Baciato dal Sole Italian Primitivo 2014

£9.99 Virgin Wines

A lighter style of red with flavours of blackberry and damson plus sharper notes of coffee. Match to lighter meats and tomato dishes.

Masi Campofiorin 2012, Italy

£13.99 Majestic, Waitrose

The massively heavy bottle and solid cork provide the drama while the wine inside provides the intense flavours you'd expect from a port at three times the price. Made with semi-dried grapes, this wine is very similar to another Italian wine called Amarone – and both have the potential to be aged in your cellar (do you have one?) for 15-20 years. But open now for the mix of cocoa, raspberry and raisin flavours. Fab stuff.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk