Searching for romantic Italian wines—perhaps for Valentine’s Day or another special occasion? Italy produces many excellent candidates in a host of wine-producing regions. You can pick from reds, whites or rosati; sparkling, semi-sparkling or flat; dry, sweet and in-between.
When I think about Valentine’s Day, I think about bubbly drinks and wines with vivid red or pink tones. Here are a few of the romantic Italian Wines we’ve sampled during the pandemic at home.
Needless to say, the “big pause” certainly has made many of us more acutely aware of the joys of preserving and celebrating traditions while we wait for restaurants and wineries to reopen to the public and travel to Italy to resume.
Five Romantic Italian Wines
Marina Cvetic ISKRA 2015
A romantic red from Abruzzo
Located on Italy’s Adriatic coast, Abruzzo is considered one of Italy’s newer, emerging wine regions. Actually, its wine “roots” dates back to the 4th century but production had declined dramatically until it resurged about 40 or 50 years ago. Not surprisingly, the quality also improved in this terroir naturally graced with hills, sunshine, rainfall and temperature variations favorable to grape-growing.
Marina Cvetic ISKRA is a bold, ruby red wine made from Montepulciano grapes, harvested from a single-vineyard cru in Controguerra in the province of Teramo. With vivid notes of blackberries, plums, blueberries, and black currant, the wine pairs well with lamb, stewed meats, and spicy Asian dishes, as well as a variety of cheeses.
Masciarelli wines was founded by a visionary Abruzzo native, Gianni Masciarelli, in 1981, committed to producing world-class wines in the region. Before passing away in 2008, the romantic winery founder named Marina Cvetic ISKRA after his Serbian wife. After his death, Marina and his daughter, Miriam Masciarelli, took over the reins of the winery, enhancing its reputation for quality.
Retail price: $38
Eminently affordable from Piedmont
The breathtaking Langhe hills of the Piedmont region were named a UNESCO World Heritage site for their grape-growing and wine-making traditions. Mondoro was founded by Enrico Serafino in 1878, winning the first of ten gold medals only six short years later. Today the brand is owned by the Campari group.
Made from white Moscato grapes, DOCG Mondoro Asti is a sweet sparkling wine packaged in an attractive, bright green bottle that adds whimsy to any table. (Originally known as Asti Spumante, the name was officially shortened to Asti in 1993.)
The taste is fruity with hints of white peach, jasmine, nectarine and sage. Low in alcohol, it is intended to be consumed young and is often served with fruit and desserts, or paired with sweet and savory foods.
Retail Price: $20
A seductive Prosecco from Veneto
Less sweet and less bubbly than Asti and slightly sweeter than champagne, this DOCG Prosecco derives from a small, hilly area in the Veneto region. Mionetto was founded in 1887 by winemaker Francesco Mionetto.
For a sparkling wine to be called Prosecco, it has to be produced with at least 85% Glera grapes from the Veneto or Friuli-Venzia Giulia areas, which are located about 45 miles north of Venice. UNESCO declared the unspoilt Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene a World Heritage Site in 2019.
Mionetto Cartizze DOCG is a premium, dry sparkling wine with golden tones and delicate tiny bubbles that make any celebration special. Its taste and aroma are seductive with notes of apple and pair alongside citrus and glazed almond. It is extremely versatile and can be served as an aperitivo or paired with seafood and other light dishes.
Retail price: $40
Leone de Castris 2019 Five Roses Rosato
A rosy pink wine from Puglia
Produced in several wine-growing regions in Italy (including Tuscany, Lombardy, Sicily, Sardinia and Puglia), Rosato is a sensual, pink-hued wine. However, Puglia (in southeastern Italy at the heel of the boot) produces some 44 percent of the country’s Rosato wines, considered the Italian equivalent of rosés because they share the same production methods.
A chilled glass of fresh, pink Rosato is especially delightful in warm weather by the seaside but the wine has become a four-season favorite, perfect for a Valentine’s Day celebration, either as an aperitivo or paired with pizza or light dishes. Leone de Castria 2019 Five Roses Rosato is produced in the Salento area of Puglia and was rated 91 by Wine Enthusiast, This pink beauty has notes of strawberry, melon and citrus with a kick of cherry. Even its name spells romance.
Retail price: $21
Ca’ del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi Rose
A little luxury from Lombardy
You might want to splurge on this sparkling wine for a milestone celebration. Franciacorta wines come from a small wine-producing area—with limited production (that escalates the cost)–in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Top-of-the-line among romantic Italian wines, it’s considered Italy’s equivalent to Champagne and is made using the Méthode Champenoise. Franciaorta has a much more recent history than Champagne; it was designated with DOC status in 1967 and DOCG in 1995.
Producing its first wines in 1972, the Ca’ del Bosco winery is now considered one of the premier producers of Franciacorta. Made from 100% Pinot Nero grapes, Ca’ del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi Rose has an intense pink hue with fine, persistent bubbles. It is somewhat sweet with notes of ripe fruits, mild spices and chestnut honey. An elegant wine for a toast or paired with poultry. Too precious for a sparkling cocktail.
Retail price – $139
Disclosure: We received samples of the first three romantic Italian wines but any opinions expressed in this post are our own. We are wine lovers, not wine connoisseurs.
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