5 Italian Summer Reds
For fans of red or rosato (rosé) wines, Italy offers numerous refreshing, structured and food-friendly choices to beat the summer heat. These five bottles are perfect to sip on the porch or to serve alongside anything from cold summer salad to barbecued beef this season.
For the perfect sushi or seafood pairing, look to Sicily’s Frappato for its refreshing acidity and delicate tannins. This native eastern Sicilian grape has also long been blended with the heartier, deeply colored Nero d’Avola; the most famous appellation for this is Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). On its own, light-bodied Frappato is a quintessential summertime sip, its perfume and savory notes benefiting from a slight chill.
90 Valle dell’Acate 2013 Il Frappato (Vittoria Frappato). This fragrant Sicilian red opens with intense aromas of blue flower, rose and red berry. The bright, silky palate delivers juicy strawberry, crushed red cherry and white pepper alongside fresh acidity. Editors’ Choice.
abv: 13% Price: $23
Hailing from northern Italy’s Alto Adige and Trentino regions, Schiava is an easy-drinking hot-weather vino. With its elegant fruitiness, mild acidity and soft tannins, Schiava is best when lightly chilled.
“I personally love Schiava with grilled salmon,” says Karoline Walch, winemaker for her family’s estate, Elena Walch.
With aromas and flavors of wild cherry, berries and almond, you can also pair this seductively feminine wine with pasta salads and light appetizers.
88 Elena Walch 2013 Schiava (Alto Adige). Here’s an ideal summer red from northern Italy. It’s loaded with red cherry, strawberry and almond sensations alongside soft acidity and supple tannins. Chambers & Chambers.
abv: 12.5% Price: $15
Don’t let the tainted image of Lambrusco—cheap, candied, industrially made—prevent you from discovering one of Italy’s greatest food wines. Today, the best Lambruscos are frothy but bone dry, boasting mouthfuls of bright red-berry fruit, crisp acidity and fine bubbles. Most get their effervescence from secondary fermentation in steel tanks, although some still undergo the traditional, in-bottle method.
Produced in the central Emilia-Romagna region, Lambrusco can be made from several distinct grape varieties, but seek out Sorbara (the most graceful and fragrant), Grasparossa (the most structured) and Salamino (a combination of finesse and structure).
This sipper is great as an apéritif, but it’s equally delicious when paired with charcuterie and barbecued meats.
90 Paltrinieri 2012 Radice (Lambrusco di Sorbara). Refermented in bottle, this invigorating and frothy red opens with aromas of woodland berries and violets. The savory palate offers mouthfuls of wild cherry, strawberry and clove alongside bright acidity and small, persistent bubbles. Porto Vino Italiano. Editors’ Choice.
abv: 11.5% Price: $21
While very few producers still plant Grignolino (now dedicating space to Nebbiolo and Barbera), it was once one of Piedmont’s most prized wines. Today, production is centered in the Monferrato area in the province of Asti, Grignolino’s spiritual home.
Known for its strawberry and spice notes, along with zesty acidity and smooth texture, it meets its flavorful match when paired with crab cakes or cold cuts.
Italo Stupino, whose family owns Castello di Neive, produces traditional, bright, gulp-worthy Grignolino.
“My father planted Grignolino so we could enjoy wine in the summer,” he says. “Barbaresco isn’t a summer wine, and back then, there was no tradition of white wines in Langhe.”
89 Castello di Neive 2013 Grignolino (Piemonte). Bright and savory, this offers intense aromas of red berries and exotic spices. The delicious, refreshing palate delivers juicy Morello cherry, wild strawberry, allspice and Asian spices alongside crisp acidity and silky tannins. Winebow.
abv: 13% Price: $16
It’s not quite summer until you pop the rosé. Skip the oceans of flabby, slightly sweet tipples, and grab a bottle made from Nerello Mascalese. Hailing from Sicily’s Mount Etna, these structured, dry rosatos are celebrated for their full body, a result of keeping the red skins in contact with the just-pressed juice for up to twelve hours.
Boasting layered notes of red berries, Mediterranean herbs and smoky minerality, Etna rosatos also feature bright acidity and firm tannins. These complex, thirst-quenching sips pair well with anything from pizza and pasta to herb-baked haddock.
89 Graci 2013 Rosato (Etna). This salmon-colored, structured rosé offers red cherry, pink grapefruit, nectarine, white pepper and mineral sensations. The savory palate is balanced by vibrant acidity. Massanois Imports.
abv: 13.5% Price: $20
- 6Nerello Mascalese