Five Italian wines your American palate will love

Categories: Booze

Just tell the truth, already: you are totally freaked out by Italian wine.

By "freaked out", we mean shaking like a leaf. Shivering in your shorts. Just plain scurrred. Ask a wine retailer which category they find most challenging to sell to less experienced consumers, and you're likely to hear the same despairing reply: Italian.

This means that some of the greatest wines in the world are being passed over in favor of bottles with kangaroos on them, people. But we're not trying to give you crap here, because we get it. There's that whole pain-in-the-ass business about the terms on the label being in a foreign language, and even if you're able to decipher those, you'll still have to deal with crazy-high levels of acidity and trying to remember which grape you're drinking if you're enjoying a Barbaresco. Because we realize that you're probably not carrying around a copy of The New Wine Lover's Companion in your back pocket (not that there's anything wrong with that), after spending last weekend tasting a half case worth of too-good-not-to-recommend Italian reds, we got to thinking: What if we could make these endlessly alluring wines more accessible to you?

Before we give you the goods, though, be warned: These are not one-for-one exchanges we're proposing here. Italian red wines do not, nor should they taste exactly like the domestic wines we're comparing them to below. Your mission is to look for a wine (or three) that you commonly enjoy and purchase on a regular basis -- then work on expanding your repertoire by sampling the Italian wine that comes closest to it, relatively
speaking. Don't forget to try the recommended food pairing, as that's likely to make your foray into the world of old world wines a little smoother, being as it is that the addition of fat, protein, salt and / or umami flavors will significantly affect the experience of highly acidic and /or tannic wines on your tender palate. So push yourself. Buy a bottle you've never heard of, and see firsthand why you've got nothing to lose (and everything to gain) by exploring the world of Italian wine.

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