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How to Choose an Italian Wine During a Romantic Dinner

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Italian Wine

We’ve all been there, we’re at a Thai restaurant with our significant other and the waiter asks if we want to see the Italian wine chart. Unfortunately, you’ve never heard of most of the bottles on the Italian Wine list and having to act cool in that situation is tough work.

Wine denominations, that’s how the pros call them, might seem complicated but it’s all about their origin and way simpler than it seems, especially if you’re only interested in the Italian kind.

To properly explain wine denominations, we have to start from the different grades of names a wine could have, this reflects on the quality and history of the latter.

You could look at it as if it was a pyramid, from top to bottom:

  1. DOCG: with stiff rules and an agency dedicated to enforcing them, those wines are top of the line. Types of grapes used, how much the fruit has matured, and even the procedure of winemaking is thoroughly checked to make sure it’s the best drink Italian hills can offer.
  2. DOC: you might have seen this category of denominations on different Italian products in your local supermarket, in the world of winemaking it’s just a step below DOCG and it’s a ruleset just a little bit easier to work with for the winegrowers.
  3. IGT: for the wines that couldn’t really make the cut for the categories above, IGT denominations focus on the region of origin of the bottle and hold producers to lower standards. The last sentence should be taken with a grain of salt, there are some amazing IGT wines out there.
  4. VDT: the good old “table wines”, those are the ones you can find in an old hidden restaurant where wine is more of a secondary character compared to the delicious food, still amazing but if you’re a wine aficionado you might not like some of them.

Now we can finally go into the specifics of wine naming and into what it all means.


Who hasn’t heard of this iconic wine? Produced in Tuscany this variety is a mix of three main types of grapes and in some cases even five. Chianti is a DOCG denomination but the rules are simple:

  • At least 70% of the grapes used have to be of the “Sangiovese” kind, this fruit is your classic purple grape but it has history on its back and with it an amazing scent.
  • A maximum of 15% of the grapes used are from the “Cabernet” type, if it’s a white or red variety it doesn’t matter, the result is always a great and tasty wine.
  • A maximum of 10% of the grapes are used from white local varieties, this is entirely optional but a Chianti with some of the grapes being white is still a wonderful Chianti.


This type of wine comes directly from the land of Romeo and Juliet, Veneto. Fermented with the by-products of the Amarone wine (which is another great Venetian wine) and two different types of red grapes this denomination is a synonym of quality. There are way more rules that make a Valpolicella what it is but, between the containers used to ferment it and how the plants have to be grown, I think we can leave all that boring stuff to those who sell it!


Finally, our first white wine denomination, even if it’s not what you’d expect. This wine is in fact of the sparkling type. The base from this one is made out of 3 different kinds of grapes, Chardonnay, black Pinot and white Pinot. With its distinguishable perfume, this wine really takes it all to another level


Last but not least, this wine specifically made from Nebbiolo grapes is simply delicious. What distinguishes it from any other denomination is the scents used in its making. Prunes, Ink (yes, ink), licorice and even rocks can be used.

Those were obviously just a taste of the complexity of Italian denominations, despite the straightforwardness of the rules it can take years to learn everything that makes a wine lover a TRUE wine lover.

You can easily find all these Italian wines at InstaWinery, an exclusive online wine shop located in Italy with worldwide shipping.


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