Dry can be sweet. In Trento, northern Italy, the alpine weather suckles grapes, and the winemakers’ focus on structure results in decadently dry wines. There, I found sparkling Italian wines that rival Champagne (keep reading).
While some New World wines lean on heavy oak and gaudy vinification practices that mute the grape’s natural juice, you can still count on Italy to deliver that Old World melody of fruit, earth and spice that distinguishes sweetly dry from dryly sweet.
With their comparatively low alcohol and high quality, these six wines represent several Italian regions with distinctions you can mull over, luxuriate in and sweet-talk about:
Top Italian Red Wines
1. 2010 Triacca Valtellina Superiore Riserva La Gatta
Give this one time, about 30 to 45 minutes, for its fine, light-medium body to disrobe, revealing a perfume of dried red cherries, jasmine, lavender, fennel, hibiscus, bay leaf and chamomile.
$28. Wine by the Bay, 888 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 112, Miami; 305-455-9791; winebtb.com.
2. 2007 Saracco Pinot Nero
Exceptionally earthy, this pinot nero’s aromatics are reminiscent of a thrift store, old records, goat musk and gloves fresh from picking truffles. A Piedmontese funk frames stewed, black-fruit flavors that glide through the finish.
$20. La Estancia Argentina, 17870 Biscayne Boulevard, Aventura; 305-932-6477; laestanciaweb.com.
Two Great White Wines
3. 2016 Kettmeir Müller Thurgau
This wine looks German but speaks Italian. There’s fresh coconut on the nose; on the palate, honeysuckle, honeydew and guinep (Spanish lime) dance through a light, mineral finish.
$19. Wine & Vino, 1110 15th Street, Miami Beach; 786-916-9156; wineandvinosouthbeach.com.
4. 2016 Masseria Li Veli Verdeca
The nose offers Riesling-esque petrol followed by crème fraîche, almonds and macadamia nuts. On the palate, soursop fruit is enlivened by steely and stony notes.
$13 glass, $59 bottle. Upland, 49 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-602-9998; uplandmiami.com.
Sparkling Italian Wines That Shine
5. 2014 Bisol Crede Brut
This is not your everyday Prosecco. Its light straw color and white-peach nose lead to grapefruit and lime flavors that drift through the sandstone terroir, coming alive in an epic mineral finish.
$23. Sunset Corners, 8701 Southwest 72nd Street, Kendall; 305-271-8492; sunsetcorners.com.
6. 2010 Ferrari Perlé
A wildly alluring, dimple-carving salinity creeps from the Trento cool into a sparkling wine that boasts aromas and flavors of Japanese pear, dragonfruit, and Honeycrisp and Malay apples. A bargain for boutique Champagne lovers.
$63. Wine by the Bay, 888 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 112, Miami; 305-455-9791; winebtb.com.
Did you know?
The most expensive of Italian wines, Giacomo Conterno Monfortino Barolo Riserva, fetches an average of $846 a bottle.
All photography by Kiel Rauseo-Danclair.