This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Understanding Italian Wine Labels Part 1


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and U 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s podcast; Understanding the Italian Wine Label Part 1 http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/09/09/wine-guy-mike-for-september-9/

YouTube preview of Understanding an Italian wine label Part 1; http://youtu.be/e3CU7v5LXmk

Recent podcast; What You Need To Know About Wine  http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/15/wine-guy-mike-for-july-15/

Recent podcast; (full length conversation) with Maximilian Riedel, CEO Riedel Crystal of America http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/24/wine-guy-mike-for-june-24/

Father’s Day podcast, Special Father’s and Special Wines http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/17/wine-guy-mike-for-june-17/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment; Perfect Patio Wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/Mike-Tornatore-8-7-12/-/14594602/15999458/-/67a5ri/-/index.html

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Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to WineGuyMike show wines for the lowest price.  Located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Good Sunday morning and welcome to the WineGuyMike Radio Show.  In recent weeks we have had the opportunity to have many terrific guests on the show.  This morning though it is time to get back to what we love most and that is wine.

Today we are going to talk about Italian Red wine and how to better understand what’s on the label.  For many wine lovers this is one of those areas of the world that can be a bit daunting to understand, and that’s where I come in.  It’s my job to help you better understand challenging wine topics so you can enjoy the wine that we talk about here on the show.

Okay let’s get started; Italy has been producing wine for 3,000 years.  It is said that Italy is not a country, just a gigantic vineyard from North to South.  There are over 2 thousand labels of wine in Italy, that’s a lot of bottles to know about.  Did you know that since 2008 Italy reins as the largest producer of wine in the world?

We are not going to tackle all of Italy in one week.  When it comes to red Italian wine there are three main regions to concentrate on first, Tuscany, Piedmont, and the Veneto regions.

There are literally hundreds of indigenous grape varietals planted throughout Italy, many which we have not ever heard of in America.  The main grapes that a person needs to know about to get started with Italian wines from these three regions are; In Tuscany the Italians grow Sangiovese, in Piedmont they grow Nebbiolo, and in the Veneto region a grape known as Corvina is what is grown.

Many grape growers in Italy now are growing Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  Many American viticulture areas of America likewise are growing Italian varietals of grapes too.  Just to name a couple; In the Napa Valley some grape farmers are growing Barbara grapes, in Walla Walla some farmers grow Sangiovese grapes.  Grape varietals know no boundaries; the worlds grape farmers now better understand ideal geography, weather, and soil composition that grape varietals thrive in.

Let’s take a look at how the Italian wine laws dictate what ends up in your Italian bottle of wine.  Just like there are three Red wine regions to pay attention to first begin to understand Italian wines there are three Italian wine law designations one should understand as well.

Grape growers are governed by Italian law or what is known as the DOC – Denominazione di Origine Controllata and DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.  You will see this printed on the label of Italian wines.  There are many Italian wines that do not adhere to wine specifications within particular regions and these wines will be designated on their label as IGT – Indicazione Geografica. 

IGT Label

IGT Label

DOC designations on a win bottle are much like that of French AOC wine laws, you will also see this designation on bottles of French wines.  The biggest difference between the DOC and AOC is that the Italian DOC has aging requirements.

The DOC governs:

  • Geographical limits of each region
  • Grapes varieties allowed in wines
  • The percentage of each grape used (Classico must be 80% Sangiovese) If the varietal is specified it must contain 85% of varietal
  • The amount of grapes that can be grown and harvested per acre
  • The minimum percentage of alcohol in a wine
  • Minimum aging requirements.  How much time a wine is aged in barrels or bottles
  • These wine laws became effective in 1963 in Italy

The difference between the DOC and DOCG is that the G in DOCG indicates that a wine is stylistically guaranteed to meet the standards set forth in Italian wine laws for specific regions.

DOCG Label

DOCG Label

Currently there are 35 DOCG wines in Italy, 7 from the Tuscany region and 9 from the Piedmont region.  There are over 300 DOC wines from Italy and many more wines that are designated IGT which just means they do not adhere to the standards set forth for a given region in which they are grown.  There are many great examples of all of these wines and you typically pay for the guarantee.  There are great IGT wines that do not adhere to the wine laws in the region or area in which they are grown, you just have to know what you are buying, but hey that’s why you keep me around.  

Arrivederci for now wine friends, enjoy these great wine selections especially priced at Liquid Planet, in the heart of Downtown Missoula.

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

The wine selections from today’s show are available today, all especially priced at Liquid Planet, in the heart of Downtown Missoula, Missoula’s ultimate wine shopping experience and the very best of beverage.

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

Cin Cin its Chianti this week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

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Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Welcome to the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this Sunday morning.

Now that fall is upon us I have been focusing on wines that are seasonally transitional and offer great value.  This week I want to share Italian wine with you, specifically Chianti. 

What is Chianti?  Is it a grape, is it a wine style, or is it a place? What is Chianti beside the fact that it is a wine that is great to drink especially with a meal.  

Italian wine is arguably the best food wine in the world and Chianti certainly fits this profile.  Italians love their wine bright with fruit, acidic, and with a slightly bitter finish.  Chianti is a perfect example of this style of wine.

The bright fruit of an Italian wine is what you first notice in your glass.  As you examine the aroma you smell the fruit or what is known as the nose of the wine.

Once you take in the aroma of your Chianti your sense of smell now makes your mouth or palate desire a taste of the luscious liquid in your glass.  Take a small sip and swish the wine about in your mouth, that’s right just like your mouthwash.  Once your swallow the wine think about all the things you are experiencing with this particular wine.  With Chianti you will notice four different sensations on your palate.  The fruit delivers the first impression, and then you will notice the mouth-feel which is the weight or body of the wine, and the texture.  Chianti is a lively or acidic wine, this will also be apparent on your palate.  This is important to a food friendly wine because this is what brings out flavor in food.  As you swallow your wine you will then notice the tannin in the wine which comes from the wine being macerated or together at the beginning of the winemaking process with the stems and skins of the grape.  This is the sensation in Chianti that you will experience and think to yourself, this wine is dry.  The last sensation you may be left with is a slightly bitter finish, this is not a bad thing.  Remember we are talking about Chianti, an Italian table wine made to be enjoyed with a meal from the Tuscany region.

Chianti is made predominantly from the Sangiovese grape.  Sangiovese produces wines that can be spicy, are medium bodied with nuances of cherry and raspberry flavors.  The Sangiovese grape is a warm weather varietal that thrives in the Tuscany region of Italy.  This grape is grown and producing lovely wines in California too.

Tuscany is the region of Italy in which Chianti is produced; remember Sangiovese is the main grape varietal used in a Chianti wine.  Within Tuscany lies the Chianti and Chianti Classico grape growing and wine producing areas.

It is very important to know that there are three different levels of Chianti wine that are governed by an Italian law or what is known as the DOC and DOCG.  You will see this printed on the label of your Italian wine.  There are many Italian wines that do not adhere to wines specifications within particular regions and these wines will be designated on their label as IGT.  The difference between the DOC and DOCG is that the G in DOCG stylistically is guaranteed to meet the standards set forth in Italian wine laws for specific regions. 

The DOC governs:

  1. Geographical limits of each region
  2. Grapes varieties allowed in wines
  3. The percentage of each grape used (Classico must be 80% Sangiovese)
  4. The amount of grapes that can be grown and harvested per acre
  5. The minimum percentage of alcohol in a wine
  6. Minimum aging requirements.  How much time a wine is aged in barrels or bottles

These wine laws became effective in 1963 in Italy.

As you look at the label on a bottle of Chianti it will be designated one of three things.

  1. Chianti – a basic table wine from a broad general area within the Tuscany wine region.  This is the least expensive Chianti.
  2. Chianti Classico – this wine is more expensive and comes from the inner historic district of Chianti.  This is a better quality wine that has been given more attention in the winemaking process.  The grapes come from better vineyards that produce wines with a sense of place.
  3. Chianti Classico Riserva – these are the finest Chianti’s made the very best grapes,  are a result of the most laborious winemaking attention, and are aged for a minimum of two years and three months.  These Classico Riserva’s also come with the highest price tags.

Chianti is great wine to drink with an Italian meal.  Because of the natural acidity in a Chianti wine you are assured that your wine pairing will bring out the all flavor in your meal.  Chianti is a medium bodied wine that will not compete with your meal.  Remember with big robust foods you do not want a wine that is equally robust or they will simply nullify one another.

My recommendation for pairing Chianti wine with your meal is this; pasta dishes with red sauces and chicken, meatballs or sausage I recommend Chianti.  This wine is a perfect partner to these dishes.  The perceived bitter finish from table Chianti when it is tasted alone is non-existent when enjoyed with your meal.  This slight bitterness helps balance the sweetness from the fruit in a tomato based sauce, it is not a bad thing this just enhances your meal. 

Chianti wines are made to keep your meal and your palate lively and awake and craving more.  Most traditional Italian dinners are multi-coursed and this is exactly why Chianti is balanced and structured the way that it is.

Italian dinners that would be considered fine dining as opposed to the family style Italian dinners my family enjoys this time of year is the time to serve a Chianti Classico.  If it is a special occasion you might consider serving a Chianti Classico Riserva.  The Classico and Classico Riserva will have a little fuller and richer mouth-feel to them on the palate.  Either of these wine selections would pair perfectly with my favorite dish that I share with you, Bracciole.  The Classico Chianti’s have more depth, tannin that is more refined, in general a much richer wine than a table Chianti.  Considering the rich style of Chianti Classico these wines will pair nicely with more elegant Italian beef based dishes.

Enjoy this wonderful wine from Tuscany with a beautiful Italian dinner, Salute.

Chianti Wine Recommendations

The history of the Mazzei family is deep in Tuscany’s winemaking tradition and history.  The first recorded mention of the Mazzei family was noted in documents traced back to the early 11th century.

Poggio alla Badiola IGT Toscana retails for under $15.00 is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot.  This IGT Chianti has beautiful depth in color and intensely aromatic dark fruits and mocha.  Balance, depth, and structure deliver a supple and smooth wine on the palate.  A long finish of dark fruits and berries, delicious.

Fonterutoli Chianti Classico DOCG retails for under $25.00 is a blend of 90% Sangiovese, 2% Malvasia Nera, 3% Colorino, 5% Merlot.  Bright Ruby red with streaks of violet are what you see from this beautiful wine in your glass.  On the nose this wine has subtle aromas of smoke, red cherries, and thyme.  Delightful indeed.  On the palate this wine is refined, fruity, and lively with acid.  A great food wine.

Recipe for Bracciole

1 stick of real butter

2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 four inch pieces of Round Steak pounded thin

Salt and Pepper to taste

4 garlic gloves smashed and finely chopped

½ cup of Italian Parsley

4 hard boiled eggs medium chopped

1 cup of Italian bread crumbs

Tomato Sauce, prepare your favorite basic sauce

Melt butter and olive oil in a sauce pan then brush onto both sides of meat. 

Next apply salt and pepper to taste.

Spread Garlic onto one side of meat.

Next add the layer of bread crumbs.

Now add a layer of the Italian parsley.

Now layer the chopped hardboiled eggs.

Now you need to roll the meat up and tie with poultry thread.

Next you brown the rolls of meat on a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Turning the rolls and being careful not to overcook.

Take the rolls from your pan to the pot of tomato sauce and simmer for about 4 hours.

Make your favorite pasta, add the sauce with a couple of the rolls of Bracciole.

This is my favorite Italian dinner that I share with you.   

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"