Simply Italian Wine Tasting

As I’ve mentioned many times, I am ultimately very lucky when it comes to tasting wine. Having written, filmed or produced TV about food and wine for over a decade, I am privy to invitations to many global trade wine tastings. I still get great pleasure when various winemakers travel across the globe to pour their wines here in Chicago.

It’s the most amazing learning experience, and I generally focus on wines or regions I’m less familiar with. Such was the case this week when Simply Italian Great Wines (which features a group of wines from lesser known regions of Italy) poured glasses at Hotel Sax on October 28th.

Most of these wines are still looking for importation so you may have to wait to find these at Chicago wine merchants. Nevertheless, this tour of a few grapes in a few amazing areas in Italy should be fun, if not informative. Italy isn’t just about Chianti (although the Sangiovese grape, which makes up Chianti, certainly has many expressions and shows it’s face across many of the regions in Italy). Here are the regions that I visited in a glass this week, and a few of their unique varietals of intrigue…

Veneto Bolder reds but with restraint and a hint of oxidized raisins; Valpolicello Ripasso and Amarone, and also Prosecco, one of the more popular sparkling wines of Italy.

Friuli Venezia Giulia White of incredible character; Ribolla Gialla and Friulano. Red with nice body, bright red berries but not overwhelmingly big.

Trentino-Alto Adige A lovely, crisp white wine with a hint of grapefruit; Nosiolo and another intriguing white called Manzoni, a cross between Pinot Blanc and Riesling.

Romangna In the eastern part of the Emilia-Romagna region; White grape Albana has a hint of stone fruit and moderate acidity

Franciacorta This is the region best known for the sparkling wines of Italy made in the methode traditional, as in Champagne. This is not Prosecco, which is typically from Veneto. These are more complex and sophisticated sparkling wines of amazing character. There are also quite a few ‘pink’ ones!




About Laura Levy Shatkin

Laura Levy Shatkin served for 10 years as food and wine critic for the Chicago Reader. Later, she became an Emmy-nominated executive producer for Taste, a 30-minute food and wine show on NBC-5 Chicago, which later merged into, where Ms. Levy is a partner/owner. Today, she teaches private wine classes and hosts wine parties for consumers and firms, and continues to tell the video stories of wine, girlfriends and wine travel on her TCW blog, Wine…ing Women.