Summer has officially arrived, which means warm and sunny days are here to stay. If you’re craving an escape to Italy, you’re not alone.Though we can’t all make it to Italy’s sparkling Mediterranean coastline or the sun soaked beaches of Sicily for a summer holiday. Luckily, anyone can experience la dolce vita with these Italian summer wines.
Italian Sparkling Wines for Summer
For sparkling wine lovers, and especially fans of Champagne, look to Franciacorta Rosé for a refreshing yet complex bubbly. Just as in Champagne, Franciacorta is made with predominantly Chardonnay (65% maximum) and Pinot Noir (35% maximum). Other varieties like Pinot Blanc or Erbamat may also be included. Within Italy, Franciacorta DOCG is the only denomination producing traditional method sparkling wines besides Trento DOC. This Italian wine region also has a similar climate to its more famous French counterpart, too. While Champagne exhibits a continental climate with oceanic influences, Franciacorta has a continental climate moderated by influences of Lake Iseo.
The region’s proximity to the lake helps mitigate temperatures in summer and winter, resulting in a lengthy growing season in which grapes fully develop phenolics and maintain acidity. With lively strawberry, rose, and toasted almond aromas, intense fruit flavors, and a zesty finish, add Franciacorta Rosé to your must-try list of Italian summer wines.
Summer Wine Pairings for Franciacorta Rosé
The crisp acidity, full body, and fresh fruit flavors of Franciacorta Rosé make this Italian sparkling wine a great pairing for fried foods and fresh seafood. Try pairing this wine with fritto misto or fried calamari, fish tacos, sushi, oysters, or grilled sea bass.
If you’re looking for something fresh, fruity, and fun, look no further than Moscato d’Asti. This is a semi-sparkling Italian wine not to be confused with Moscato. The latter is a still white wine which, while fruity, is often lacking in quality. Moscato d’Asti is grown in the Asti region of Piedmont, Italy, hence the name. It’s typically slightly sweet with around 100-150g/L of sugar, or less sugar than a can of Coca Cola. This wine’s semi-sparkling style is called frizzante in Italian. Expect very fragrant aromas of Meyer lemon, mandarin orange, pear, honeysuckle, and orange blossom.
Wine Pairings for Moscato d’Asti
Since this Italian summer wine is very aromatic, slightly sweet, and bursting with fruity flavors, it’s a delicious wine pairing with fruit forward dishes or spicy cuisine. Pair Moscato d’Asti with a citrus salad, stone fruit salad with juicy peaches or nectarines, seafood ceviche with mango and serrano peppers, or spicy Thai curries.
Italian White Wines for Summer
Friulian Pinot Grigio
Let’s be honest, a Pinot Grigio from Friuli-Venezia Giulia always hits the spot. But even more on a hot summer day when you need a super chilled white wine to quench your thirst. Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a wine region located in the northeastern corner of Italy amidst the foothills of the Alps. Some vineyards are situated amidst the flat plains closer to the Adriatic Sea. Pinot Grigio grown in this Italian wine region tends to have a delightful richness with medium-to-full body, and plump juicy peach or tropical fruit flavors. When it comes to Italian summer wines, this is my go-to for a girls lunch or easy backyard aperitivo by the pool.
Summer Pinot Grigio Wine Pairings
Fresh herbs and green summer produce really make the fruit flavors and bright acidity of Pinot Grigio pop. Savor this Italian white wine with a pesto and chicken avocado wrap, Caesar salad with blackened shrimp, citrus marinated olives, Greek dolmades, or caprese salad loaded with basil.
Soave is a wine region in northern Italy just east of Verona. Here, too, you’ll find vineyards in the foothills of the Alps and the more southerly flat plains near the River Po. Soils are limestone and clay with some volcanic rock, which ultimately yields wines with crisp acidity and fruit forward flavors. If you’re reaching for Soave amidst your Italian summer wines, then grab a Soave Classico, which offers better quality and is grown in the Alpine foothill vineyards. These Italian white wines are made mainly from the Gargenega variety. They typically have medium to high acidity levels with medium body and aromas of red apple, pears, stone fruits, and occasionally white pepper.
Soave Classico Wine Pairings
Try pairing Soave Classico with fattier fish or white meats you’re throwing on the grill this summer. Think grilled chicken or salmon, chicken fajitas, buttery scallops, or lobster. This wine has enough body and acidity to stand up to dishes like these with complementary fruit flavors.
Falanghina is an Italian white variety which hails from the wine region of Campania near Naples in southern Italy. Within Campania, there are two sub-varieties of Falanghina – Falanghina Beneventana and Falanghina Flegrea. Though according to the pros like Jancis Robinson and Ian D’Agata, author of Native Wine Grapes of Italy, the two are not easy to differentiate. The sub-varieties are often blended. Then, simply labeled under the name Falanghina. These white wines are often medium bodied with high acidity, exhibiting aromas of lemon, orange blossom, peach, almond, and a stony minerality. Learn more about Falanghina here.
Summer Wine Pairings for Falanghina
Falanghina is the ideal wine to pair with seafood dishes like scallops, prawns, and clams. This wine is also perfect for pasta dishes with light sauces or lots of fresh herbs. Think scallops in a buttery garlic sauce, linguine and clams with lots of fresh parsley, grilled prawns in a chimichurri sauce, or fresh pesto pasta.
Italian Red Wines for Summer
If you’ve watched The White Lotus or scrolled through Instagram lately, you know that Sicily is having a moment. So, no Italian summer wines list would be complete without including Etna Rosso or Etna Bianco. Both of which I plan to be drinking a lot of this summer. Etna Rosso is made from two native Sicilian grape varieties, Nerello Mascalese (80% minimum) and Nerello Cappuccio (20% maximum). These grapes grow on the hillsides of the active volcano, Mount Etna, in volcanic soils. Consequently, they’re completely irresistible, loaded with fresh acidity and a unique mineral, saline quality. Elegant yet powerful, Etna Rosso delivers flavors of pomegranate, sour cherry, and hibiscus with subtle notes of smoke and spice.
Etna Rosso Wine Pairings
In summer, I like to enjoy Etna Rosso slightly chilled. It’s a mouthwatering match for barbecue ribs slathered in bbq sauce, gorgonzola burgers, homemade pizza, Greek meatball pitas, and other grilled meats or vegetables.
Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Head a little bit more off-the-beaten path in Sicily for a lesser known red wine called Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG. This wine is named for its trademark cherry flavors and is made from Nero d’Avola (50-70%) and Frappato (30-50%).The Frappato contributes vibrant black cherry and strawberry flavors, while Nero d’Avola delivers weight and body. Expect medium body with low-to-medium tannins, plus cherry, strawberry, and licorice flavors with hints of dried red flowers.
Summer Wine Pairings for Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Try this Italian summer wine with grilled swordfish, carne asada, pulled pork sandwiches, or cheese and charcuterie boards ideally savored by the sea.