How to host an Italian wine tasting

Thinking about having an Italian wine tasting, but not sure where to begin? Bristol Bar & Grille Master Sommelier Scott Harper shares how to host an Italian wine tasting with tasting tips, wine recommendations and other must haves.

Italy is one of the old-world countries that has a deep culture in wine and food. In Italy, wine is food. When someone drinks too much, an Italian may say they have not had enough to eat. For that reason, I always suggest assorted Salumi for easy and tasty accompaniment for a wine tasting; try Prosciutto di Parma Capicolla, Bresaola and Salame. Some cheeses are Pecorino Toscana, Taleggio, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fontina. An important conduit for both the cured meats and cheeses – quality crusty Italian bread.

A few things to have ready for your Italian wine tasting:

Good wine glasses are the most important part of your tasting, except good wine. It is easy to buy glasses made to go with specific grapes, and granted, I have many of these. But filling your cabinet with a dozen different glasses for a dozen different wines is hardly hitting the easy button. So, I say have two glasses to start off. Size is the single most important factor. Undersized glasses reduce pleasure, while oversize glasses can enhance it. Glasses should be able to hold at least 12 ounces, but I prefer upwards to 20. We all should be drinking more sparkling wine from tall flute-shaped glasses to allow the bubbles to stay in the glass. Make sure it’s able to hold at least eight ounces.

Pour the glasses about a fifth of the way to allow for swirling and to develop the aroma. A bottle of wine holds 25 ounces. With the intent on everyone trying each wine, one bottle of wine should serve eight guests. So, divide the number of guests you have by eight. Then round up and you will have how many bottles you will need.

Most Americans drink white wines too cold and red wines too warm. Overly chilled whites and too warm reds will mask the aromas, flavors and alter the structure. Try serving whites around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, sparkling around 45 degrees Fahrenheit and reds around 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Choose your wines:

Despite their long and perhaps difficult to pronounce names, these Italian wines are delicious and worth the effort. I have chosen one sparkling, one white and two reds for you. Try them in the order listed for the best experience, as I have listed them from lightest to fullest.

How to host an Italian wine tasting: Sparking wine How to host an Italian wine tasting

Brut Cuvée Prestige, Ca’ del Bosco (Franciacorta {Lombardy}, Italy). Owner Mauricio Zanella took a trip to Champagne in the late 1960s. This trip inspired him to start the state-of-the-art cellar unique to this region. Ca’ del Bosco, meaning, “house in the woods”, is a delicious Italian sparkler. It is dry with an enticing spice favor of allspice, ginger and fruit flavors of yellow apple and pear. Its mousse is also impeccable with small creamy uniform bubbles that pop out favor in a rich full body. Perfect as an aperitif, it is Chardonnay 75 percent, Pinot Bianco 10 percent and Pinot Nero 15 percent.

How to host an Italian wine tastingHow to host an Italian wine tasting: White wine

Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi Classico “Villa Torre”, Tenuta di Tavignano 2011 (Marche, Italy). Through the early 1990s Beatrice Lucangeli and Stefano Aymerich di Laconi, transformed their estate, improving the quality of their vineyards and wine production. Marche is located in east-central Italy on the Adriatic. Very dry, light and crisp, this wine has favors of limestone minerals, straw, lemon zest, white peach and apple. Also, its color is pale yellow, and it is made from the Verdicchio grape.

How to host an Italian wine tasting: Red wines

How to host an Italian wine tasting

Chianti Classico Riserva, Famiglia Cecchi 2005 (Tuscany, Italy). Cesare and Andrea Cecchi are the fourth generation Cecchi’s to be involved in Italian wine. Their ancestor Luigi started in 1893. Well-known for having a talented palate, Luigi gained experience as a winemaker, wine broker and exporter. Now the Cecchi family lives and works in the small Chianti Classico village of Castellina in Tuscany, Italy. Made from the Sangiovese grape, this is not a simple wine. Ruby red with an orange rim, it has a fresh nose of violets, ripe red cherry fruit and spice with a dry medium. Also, the body is round and smooth.

How to host an Italian wine tastingBarolo, Paolo Scavino ‘08 (Piedmont, Italy). Enrico Scavino runs this winery that his father founded in 1921, aided by his daughters Enrica and Elisa. Barolo is from the northern Italian region of Piedmont. It is made from the Nebbiolo grape, which is arguably one of the best grapes in Italy for red wine. The color is garnet/ruby with an orange rim; the wine is dry, tannic, very crisp and full-bodied with the favors of blackberries, cherries, leather, earth and roses.