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30 Jun 2021 | Kevin Lepisto


In Italy, wine is an integral part of the family meal and an essential part of Italian life.  Each region and village produces its own wine, quite often from local indigenous grapes, that is the perfect match for the local cuisine and always with its own unique appeal. 

Some of these wines are complex, special occasion wines, like Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino, but most Italian wines are affordable and uncomplicated and meant for everyday dining.  It’s these uncomplicated “everyday” wines that first attracted me to Italian wines and still excite me today. 

Everyday Italian reds are fruit forward, easy drinking and versatile with a wide variety of foods.   Of course these wines are great with Italian food, but don’t stop there. These are inexpensive wines to keep on hand and not be afraid to open up for almost any weeknight meal. Whether it is grilled salmon, roast chicken, a saucy pork chop or pan seared steak, everyday Italian reds have just the right amount of tannins and mouth watering acidity to complement foods impeccably and refresh your mouth for another bite.  

Here are some of my favorite wines to keep on hand for everyday dinners:

2019 Damilano Barbera d’Asti, Piedmont

Damilano’s Barbera d’Asti is a medium bodied Barbera d’Asti with lively cherry and blackberry fruit and slightly spicy finish.  This is a super food friendly wine and sure to please a crowd.  The Damilano winery dates back to 1890 and is still run today by the 4th generation of family members. 

$18.99 per bottle

 2018 Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano, Tuscany

Poliziano’s Rosso is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot.  It’s a fresh, fruit-driven wine with palate-cleansing acidity and just the right amount of tannin to pair with a wide variety of foods.  This is a great wine to pair with American-Italian tomato-based dishes, but has the depth to handle chicken and meat dishes as well.  Grab a couple bottles because this wine goes down way too easy!

$14.99 per bottle

 2019 Abbondanza Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

You’ll be happy this gluggable wine comes in a liter size bottle because it goes down so easily and is so good!  Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a crowd pleasing, easy drinking red wine from Central Italy that pairs well with a wide variety of foods.  Abbondanza is medium bodied with plenty of black cherry and dark berry fruits and hints of herbs.  It’s just structured enough to keep it interesting and not too simple.  You can even put a slight chill on it. The fun label was created by renowned Los Angeles artist Eric Junker who has created murals for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Target and Tom's Shoes.

$14.99 per liter bottle

 2019 Valle Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

This Valle Reale Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is ruby red in color with pleasant fruit and spice aromas.  It's a vibrant wine with plenty of ripe red fruits but remains a fresh with lip smacking acidity and a hint of tannins on the finish.  A great wine to pair with red-sauced Italian dishes and grilled meats.

$14.99 per bottle

2016 Cantine Grasso Nero d’Avola “Baldovino”, Terre Siciliane (Sicily)

This wine is made by the 5th generation of the Grasso family on its land in Sicily.  It is full of flavor--plum and cherry fruits with spicy notes of black pepper.  A great “everyday” wine, this wine is food-versatile, from robust pasta dishes to roasted fatty fishes to meat dishes.

$11.99 per bottle

 2019 San Michele Rosso Veneto Rondinella

I just fell in love with this dry, light, easy drinking red from Valpolicella producer San Michele.  I call wines like this "picnic" wines, as they are light and vibrant and pair well with a wide variety of foods that you might typically serve at a picnic.  This fun wine is all red cherry fruits with a nice savory, earthy side to balance that bright fruit.  Try it with a slight chill!  Rondinella is a blending grape used to produce Valpolicella wines, and this is the first time I've ever seen it made into a varietal wine.  Made with 100% organic grapes.

$9.99 per bottle

 2019 Paulo Scavino Langhe Nebbiolo, Piedmont

Paolo Scavino is a very historical winery in the Barolo region making a range of Nebbiolo-based wines. It was founded in 1921 in Castigione Falletto by Lorenzo Scavino and his son Paolo.  Paolo has been working these vineyards since he was 10 years old, and brings to each vintage his wide experience and expertise.  A beautiful and well-priced 100% Nebbiolo from an accomplished winemaker, this wine is a steal at this price. Fermentation takes place at low temperatures to preserve the distinctive aromatics of the Nebbiolo grape. This wine has spent a short time in neutral oak, with the rest of the time aged in stainless steel to preserve freshness.  Aromas are beautiful and complex with roses, lilacs, fennel/tar, fresh cherry fruit and herbs. Tannins are firm and this is an altogether very harmonious and immediately approachable Nebbiolo.

$22.99 per bottle

 2018 Castello di Volpaia “Citto” Toscana Rosso

Citto is an easy-drinking Tuscan red blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Perfect for pizza night and most weeknight dinners.  Medium bodied with ripe dark red fruit and a touch of earthiness. A great value from the respected Chianti Classico producer Volpaia.

$11.99 per bottle

 2019 Pecchenino Dogliani “san Luigi”, Piedmont

Dogliani is a small wine region in the South of Piedmont that only produces wines from the Dolcetto grape so they simply name the wines Dogliani.  Dolcetto wines from Dogliani are typically fuller bodied and softer than Dolcetto d’Alba wines produced just slightly to the north of Dogliani.  Pecchenino’s Dogliani is a great expression of Dolcetto, medium bodied with great purity of dark berry fruits.  This is an easy-drinking wine sure to please a crowd and great for almost any food.  An exuberant, full-bodied Dolcetto with ripe and dried black currant and cherry aromas, framed by tobacco and earthy notes. Similar on the palate with nice structure from fine-grained tannins. Extremely versatile with foods, including chicken dishes, beef dishes, earthy risottos (truffle or mushroom), and roasts.

$16.99 per bottle

 2019 Tenuta Sassoregale Sangiovese, Maremma Toscana

From the rugged coastal Maremma region of Tuscany, this 100% Sangiovese is vibrant and fresh, yet deep with flavor and character.  Aromas of Morello cherries jump out of the glass, followed by flavors of black cherries and wild berries.  Sassoregale really lets the succulent Sangiovese grape shine in this wine, with a little stint in oak barrels to add some spice and complexity.  A beautiful expression of Sangiovese Maremma.

$14.99 per bottle

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