I’ve been stocking up my sweet new wine fridge

Hallelujah! I’ve just returned from Conad, where I harvested a load of Italian wine finds. I bought eighteen bottles and spent around 90€. That averages less than $6 a bottle. And we’re talking palate-pleasing stuff, not swill. Realizing the benefits of my new wine paradigm leads me to dance inwardly and outwardly. I don’t have to scrounge around and employ excessive efforts of creativity to find really good wine without going broke.

Italy has a different wine mindset.

Primarily, I mean that Italy believes that good quality wine should be accessible to all, not just some snooty wine elites. Italian wine finds aren’t a new, novel manifestation. No, wine has been a fundamental, approachable part of Italian culture for centuries.

Compare that with some mindsets emanating from Sonoma and Napa. I moved to Italian from Sonoma County and I was well entrenched in the belief that true, quality wines came with price tags easily exceeding $50 a bottle. I didn’t flinch when paying $75 or more for what I came to believe was the truly good stuff.

Of course, there was Trader Joe’s and Costco for the everyday stuff, but I’d look askance at anything under $15. What I “accepted” in that category wouldn’t even approach the quality of wines I find here in Italy under 5€. Yes, Italian wine finds kick butt.

Living in Italy for almost eight years has purged that attitude. One of my biggest wake-up calls to the wine jackpot I’d found myself in was the SerPasso Wine (a Tuscan red)I found at Lidl. It’s still offered there and still under 5 euro. Read my post about it!

My wine shopping routine.

It’s well-oiled and well-honed now. It all starts with the Vivino app (check it out here). I ready my phone and start scanning the wine section for the current offers. With the app, you snap a photo of the label and then let Vivino scan its database for ratings and information. Violà! You have a quick guide for decision making. For me, any wine rating 3.3 (out of 5) or more gets my attention. I read the tasting notes to see if they mesh with my palate’s preferences. Experience has taught me that 3.3 is a good threshold. If it garners 3.6 or more, and if it’s on offer, I rarely hesitate to add it to my basket.

Italian Wine Finds RED

My latest Italian wine finds RED:

Notte Rossa (in Puglia) Negroamaro 2017.

This one rated 3.7 on Vivino. I bought one bottle (less than 7€) during my previous food-shopping outing. One sip on Christmas eve told me to head back to Conad for more at my first opportunity. I did but found only three on the shelf. All are in my wine fridge now. I’d easily put this up against California wines in the $50+ range. Check out the winery’s website for this and many other worthy offerings!

Vespa Primovespa Primitivo Salento 2015.

This one garnered 3.9 on Vivino and I paid around 8€. As one reviewer described this wine, “A nice balance here of dark plum, mulberry, vanilla, forest, and herbal notes.” This wine is from Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot and the region particularly famous for its Primitivo wines. I’m a lover of Primitivo so, of my latest Italian Wine finds, I’m eager to give this one a try. Check out Vespa’s website.

Sensi Dalcampo Chianti Riserva 2015

I paid less than 6€ for this Tuscan wine which earns 3.8 on Vivino. One reviewer writes, “Thoroughly enjoyed this easy bit delicious Chianti Riserva with family, accompanied by and equally simple dish of penne and pancetta A vibrant garnet with a beautiful nosenof red fruits and vanilla spice Medium in body with well balanced acidity, ripe slightly sourly red cherry, raspberry with plum notes Soft and gentle with some liquorice, smooth tannins and attractive vanilla spice I’d go with 3.9.” Visit Sensi’s website to learn more about this exceptional cantina.

Clavesana Barbera d’Alba 2019

I paid around 5€ for this wine (3.4 on Vivino) which is supposed to be a solid red wine, with little acidity and nice fruit. The Clavesana winery is in Piemonte. I don’t know if this particular label was a limited production, but I can’t find it on Clavesana’s website. I guess I’ll have to visit the cantina in person sometime in the future.

A “splurge” red!

Italian Wine Finds Sagrantino

Arnoldo Caprai Collepiano Sagrantino di Montefalco 2009 & 2011.

I purchased both of these “big” wines at Caprai’s cantina in Montefalco several years ago. If you can find one of these beauties at around 30€, I urge you to grab as many as you can. If you don’t know about Sagrantino, and if you like big, bold reds, then you won’t be disappointed if you try it. This is a wine to keep and age. If you drink it young, the tannins will make your tongue retreat into the back of your mouth. Those very same tannins, however, let this wine age handsomely, easily hitting its stride after fifteen years (though ten years of aging and hours of decanting will also deliver a nice result). If you make it to Umbria, this winery is well worth a visit. They have a beautiful, expansive tasting room and many other exceptional wines. Check out the Capria website.

Italian Wine Finds PROSECCO and WHITE

My latest Italian wine finds PROSECCO & WHITE:

Rivani Prosecco Rosè.

Vivino couldn’t yield a read on this wine, but I did find other Rivani Prosecco wines rated between 3.5 and 4.0. This Prosecco was a whopping 3€, so the risk was minimal. I’d purchased two bottles before Christmas and they both were great. I bought three more on my latest trip. Rivani is part of the Schenk group of wineries.

If you’re looking for a “splurge” Prosecco, be sure to read my post about San Gregorio’s Prosecco Superior Extra Dry DOCG

Centopassi Giato Grillo – Catarratto Superiore 2019.

This wine from Sicily earns 3.5 on Vivino and I paid just over 5€. One reviewer says, “Excellent table white for the price. Nice ripe and tart fruit, yellow apple and pear, lemon peel. paired really nicely with a spiced roasted pepper and corn soup.” Check out the Centopassi website for more information.

Li Raci Inzolia 2918 Terre Siciliane.

I’m looking forward to trying yet another Sicilian wine. This one, which earns 3.3 on Vivino, set me back a whopping 3.5€. “Straw yellow color, scent of white fruit, dry and dry with a distinct fruity background. Excellent wine quality price.” I’ve not been able to find a website for this cantina, so if I find this one to be a keeper, I’m not sure I’ll be able to buy more.

An exception to my rating system…

Viti & Vini Ortrugo 2016 from Cantina Valtidone

This wine was on special at Conad for 2.5€ with my loyalty card (usually it’s around 5€). While it only rates 3.0 on Vivino, I’d sampled this lovely, lightly“frizzante” wine over a long family lunch. In other words, I already knew I liked it so I bought three bottles. It isn’t an especially complex wine, but it does have a nice light “mouth” that goes especially well with seafood. Visit Valtidone’s website.

In summary, you won’t go broke in Italy feeding a love of top-notch wines.

This, my friends, is my parting message. If you’re coming from the States, you’re in for a very happy shift in the cost of partaking of really, really good wines! I’ve just scratched the surface so stay tuned for future posts about Italian Wine Finds!