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What is the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico? Is Chianti Classico better than the “normal” Chianti? Which is the Chianti with the black rooster on the label? These are only some of the questions that I get asked when tasting Chiantis. Lets start answering them.

Chianti and Chianti Classico are both part of the Chianti...

Thu, 16 May 2019

In the last few weeks I have been asked plenty of times about vintage, what it is and if really matter when buying a bottle of wine.  Lets try to answer these questions here.

Vintage, what is it? Vintage is the year, is the harvesting year, is the year when the grapes are harvested and every wine has a vintage, almost every wine....

Fri, 03 May 2019

We all agree that Italian wine is very confusing and it is often a matter for experts. Plenty of wines have names that have nothing to do with the grapes they are made of, Chianti and Amarone are two very good examples, some have the name of the town or the area where they are produced, Orvieto and Brunello di Montalcino are two and we could...

Wine, I..
Sat, 27 April 2019

Frequently asked questions

If a wine is corked, it will have a distinct aroma, the wine will smell like wet newspaper, a dank basement or a wet dog. A wine can be more or less corked, and it is not always easy to get the smell.

The color of the wine is given by its skins, red grapes can make red or rose wine with a very few exceptions and the wine gets its color from fermenting the juice together with the skins, shorter and lower temperature fermentation produces rose wines.

It varies between vintages but it is a question between Italy and France with Spain third. As per number of wines intended as type of wines, Italy seems to be the country with the highest number

Today many conscientious wine producers are making every effort to minimise the use of chemicals in their vineyards and winery by growing their grapes following the principle of organic farming and reduce the use of added sulphite for the preservation of the wine.
The organic certification of wine varies between countries, and there are also wineries that produce organic wines but for several reasons decide against the certification, not least from a cost point of view.

Natural wine is a wine made without using chemicals and minimum intervention in the vineyards and cellar during the wine making process, more specifically using native yeasts in the fermentation process and minimal or no sulphur dioxide in the winemaking process.
Natural wines differ from organic and biodynamic wines but may use organic or biodynamically grown grapes. To find our more about Natural Wine we recommend to read this post from The Italian Abroad wine blog

It depends on the wine. For young wine, it makes little to no difference, it allows the wine to get in touch with the oxygen and release its aroma. For aged wines, it allows a better drinking experience, it allows the wine to breath and soften. An alternative would be to put the wine in a decanter before drinking it. Swirling the wine, independently of the type and quality, allows the aromas to be released and appreciated.

A wine that has an aroma reminiscent of wood or oak is called oaky, the aroma could be the result of a wine aged in barrel or where wooden sticks or pieces are added during the fermentation process.

The grapes are harvested and then crushed to produce juice. The juice is then fermented in temperature controlled tanks with the addition of yeast. At the end of this process, the juice has become alcohol, most of the sugar has been fermented to become alcohol.
Red wine is made with red grapes and fermented with the grape skins and stalks. White wines can be made with white and red grapes and normally skins is removed, so only the juice is fermented. Rose' wines are again made with red grapes but the fermentation happens at lower temperature and for shorter time compared to when making red wine.

Traditional or Classic or Champagne method is the method in which the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, it is more labour intense and requires longer. The Charmat or Martinotti method is the one in which the second fermentation takes place in the tank. It is less labour intense and require shorter time, hence Charmat method sparkling wines tend to be cheaper than Traditional or Classic method wines.

Once you open a bottle of wine, the wine is exposed to oxygen, therefore, it will begin to oxidate and deteriorate.

Here’s a rough guide:

Sparkling wines charmat method (Prosecco, Spumante) 2/3 days
Sparkling wines classic method (Champagne, Cava, Franciacorta) 3/4 days
White/Rose’ wine up to 5 days
Light bodied wines: up to 5 days
Full bodied wines: up to 5 days
Fortified wines: about a month

The vintage is the year on the wine label and refers to the year the grapes were harvested. The characteristics of a particular year are determined by the weather conditions and resulting grapes and affect the quality of the wine. For sparkling wines, such as Champagne or Franciacorta, vintage is only indicated in great years. A vintage wine also means a great wine, a wine made in a great year.
As per the indication of the vintage on the label, this varies between countries and it is part of the country wine legislation.

A wine is oxidized if it has been exposed to too much oxygen. This can happen during the winemaking process or after the wine has been bottled due to a faulty closure. How do I know if my wine is oxidized? If the wine has become darker, tending toward orange, for white wines or brown for red wines and has little aroma, it is likely to be oxidized and the wine is ruined, there is no way back.
There are certain wines and wine making processes that require some level of oxidation, examples are Sherry and Madeira.

Unless you can afford to buy a whole case and more for each wine you want to "age", and every year or so, open a bottle and taste it, it is very difficult to assess whether a wine is age worthy and when to drink it. I would say that four are the main elements to keep into consideration when purchasing a age worthy wine. The producer, the vintage even if good producer in bad vintages do not make the wine and vintage charts do not exist for all regions, the wine itself (eg Barolo is made to be aged) and the grape/wine making process.
The producer, looking at their history we immediately know whether their wines are made to be aged or not. The vintage, this is only applicable for the biggest...

Sparkling wines requires two fermentations, one to obtain still wine and the second to make it sparkling. Also, sparkling wines need grapes to be harvested early when acid level is still high and sugar levels are low.
Two are the main methods used, the Traditional Method (used for Champagne and Franciacorta ) and the Tank Method (used for Prosecco, etc).
The Traditional method, also called Méthode Champenoise or Metodo Classico, of which examples are Cava, Champagne, Crémant and Franciacorta, produces the best sparkling wines and is also the most costly in terms of labour and production costs. The second fermentation, from still to sparkling wine, takes place entirely inside the bottle...

Sulphites are organic compounds that occur naturally in grapes and many other fruits and vegetables. But sulphur dioxide is also added to wine as an anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial agent to prevent the wine from going off. The levels are extremely low, but some winemakers are trying to avoid adding extra sulphur dioxide, though this does run the risk of wines spoiling more quickly.


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