When it comes to booze, us Scots tend to focus on the two substances we’re best known for: whisky and beer (no, I do not count Buckfast). Scotland is littered with whisky distilleries from the highlands to the south west, and more and more craft breweries are popping up each year, not to mention the ever-growing gin industry. Maybe I’m going against my nationality here, but I don’t drink beer, and try as I might, I can’t get my palette to appreciate the liquid gold of a good single malt. I like wine, and I’m not afraid to admit it! I like it so much I even went to the Glasgow Wine School and completed my WSET Level 1 award in wines, which basically makes me an expert, right?
Ok maybe not an expert, a keen enthusiast perhaps? Either way, I like my wine, and inspired by those greater than I, like the Decanter Wankers (check out their YouTube channel, it’s brilliant), and in the interest of reviving the art of wine blogging, I’m introducing ‘The Wine Diaries’. The first edition of this brand new regular feature is all about Italian whites, and why there’s more to them than Pinot Grigio. I don’t think it would be unfair to say that Pinot Grigio is a gateway wine – as a teenager I was certainly guilty of guzzling the stuff in attempt to avoid expensive spirits and sugary alcopops – it’s mellow, unoffensive and easy to drink, but in our rush to grab what’s familiar, we forget a whole world of Italian white wines just waiting to be discovered.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to bring together four Italian wines that I think far surpass any Pinot Grigio. I’ve tried to cater for a range of budgets, so whether you’re grabbing a bottle from the local supermarket on your way home from work or treating yourself at a wine shop, there should be something here for you…
VESEVO GRECO DI TUFO
First up is a newly discovered wine for me, and it is on the higher end of the budget scale. The name Vesevo is the historic name for Vesuvius, and the vineyards are located in the hills of Campania. This white wine is ideal for fans of new world Sauvignon Blanc. It’s dry and crisp but has lovely fruit flavours of pear and peach (or so the label says). I had this wine with a meal at Eusebi Deli, and I loved it so much I ended up ordering two bottles! This goes great with light seafood or chicken dishes, perfect for sunny afternoons eating al fresco. You can buy it online or at the deli for £13.95.
VERDICCIO DI MATELICA
Half the price of the Greco di Tufo and just as drinkable, Tesco’s Verdiccio is a really light wine with flavours of peach and pear, and one my parents actually introduced me to. The traditional Amphora bottle shape is inspired by original Etruscan wine vessels dating back to 700BC (I knew that Classics degree would come in handy someday) and the grapes are grown in central Italy in the Marche region. This wine is lovely and fresh, and although this may be a slightly unusual pairing, I found it cut through the rustic richness of the seafood paella I had with it. You can get it in Tesco for just £6.00 a bottle.
We’re jumping back up the budget scale now to this beautiful bottle of Pecorino. I basically went into the Good Spirits Co. on Clarence Drive and said, “give me an Italian white wine a Pinot Grigio drinker would like.” This super light wine has flavours of pear and is really refreshing and drinkable despite being quite full bodied. Plus, the bottle has a squirrel on it, so that’s a talking point, right? From the Abruzzo region, this wine is great for just sipping with friends, but save it for a special occasion, as a bottle from Good Spirits will cost you an impressive £15.20.
For something a bit simpler, this Gavi from Lidl is a real bargain. Gavi is probably one of the most popular Italian dry white wines, so you’ve probably seen it on supermarket shelves before, and this one is very special despite its small price tag. Brighter than the Pecorino, it’s less fruity but still juicy and fresh, making it great for things like seafood salad. It won Silver in the Decanter world wine awards, so you can boast about it to your friends – that is, if you decide to share it. Grab a bottle from Lidl for just £5.49.