Italian Wine Made Easy: Staff Picks

Italian Wine Recommendations to Make Your Life Easier


Italy produces a third of all wine in the world and has been home to winemakers since the 2nd century BC. Grapes are grown in every corner of the country—in over a million different vineyards. Needless to say, choosing an Italian wine can be a bit daunting. To make it easier for you, here are a couple recommendations from sales team members Carrie Shaw, Sara Sparks, Erik Guzinski, Josh Mizrahi, Tammie Teclemariam, Omari Wheat, Laura Mooney, Lee Becker, and Bambi Ray:

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Bindella – 2011
What a savory surprise! This beautiful Sangiovese, known locally as Prugnolo Gentile, is blended with native Canaiolo giving a deep layering of flavor. Dark cassis and plum give way to an earthy path of leather, tobacco leaf, and slight baking spices. Gorgeous. – CS

Ghemme “Chioso dei Pomi,” Rovellotti – 2008
Ghemme is a DOCG in the Alto Piemonte region, just north of the better-known Barolo DOCG. Here you can try long-lived cuvée wines, meaning there’s more than just Nebbiolo in the bottle. “Chioso dei Pomi” has a bouquet of red roses wrapped in a savory quilt of roasted tomatoes and basil. It is dry and with 85% Nebbiolo and 15% Vespolina, there are hefty tannins as well. This Italian wine will age wonderfully, but drinking it today is easy—decant and enjoy alongside a hearty red sauce and big plate of pasta. – SS

Freisa del Monferrato Casalese, Oreste Buzio – 2014
Do you like exploring new wines, from varieties you’ve never heard of and producers that make small, inexpensive gems at an unbeatable price? Take a look at this one. Never heard of Freisa? It means “strawberry” in the local Piemontese dialect, and while it doesn’t taste like strawberries, there is plenty of red fruit and earthy juiciness in this Italian wine to please both Beaujolais and Old World Pinot Noir drinkers. At $11.96, get two and share! – EG

Brut Rosé “Sciopet,” Castello di Verduno – 2011
Sparking Rosé from the same vineyards as Barolo? Yes, and it’s delicious! Made from the local Pelaverga grape, these bubbles have a beautiful pink hue, an expressive rich nose and chewy acidity with a dry finish. Everything you want in a mate or a bottle of Italian wine to share with that mate. – JM

Selvato Rosso, Colli della Murgia – 2012
This is a delightfully-complex Italian wine priced to drink anytime. I love it for its hints of black tea bitterness and tannin among perfumey dark fruit. A perfect match for bitter vegetables (like eggplant), charred bread, and anything involving tomato and cheese. – TT

Primitivo Riserva, Fatalone – 2007
A fantastic, old-school Primitivo with more than a little eccentricity! Named after the winemakers great grandfather, “Il Fatalone” roughly translates to “irresistible heartbreaker” in the local slang referring to his grandfather’s talents with the ladies. With his own reputation for following the beat of his own drum, the winemaker works naturally, does not release wines until they are ready to drink, and is even known to play classical music to his vines. – OW

Pigato “Ca Da Rena,” Punta Crena – 2013
From the Liguria region in the north comes this complex and aromatic Italian wine. Aging on the lees for three months adds depth of flavor and a creamy rich texture to the white fruit flavors and Mediterranean herb notes. A lovely white for cooler weather and a classic Ligurian pairing with pesto-coated gnocchi. – LM

Chianti Classico, Villa di Geggiano – 2008
It’s been suggested that wine drinkers are starting to forget about Chianti. Maybe it’s time to reintroduce yourself to this classic Italian wine. With this you’ll find an enjoyable array of fruits and spices with a hint of tobacco. To use my favorite phrase, “drink now!” – LB

Coenobium “Ruscum” – 2012
If you want to try orange wine without making a big investment, Coenobium “Ruscum” is definitely the route to take. This Italian wine benefits from two weeks of lees-stirring in addition to the full extraction of aromas and flavors of extended skin contact. It is definitely full-bodied, with a notable tannic structure. Notes include dried orange peel, nutmeg, and hints of other baking spices. Fruit-forward this is not! If wines with unique flavor profiles are your thing, this should be a go-to. – BR