For Table And Cellar: Warm Up With Italian Wine

Italian red wines always have a place in one’s cellar. There is such a wide range to choose from, why not have a few on hand? While not all wines are meant to age, many Italian reds have the bones to sit in the cellar until called upon—meanwhile, many can be enjoyed whenever, albeit with a bit of decanting.

How can you tell if your wine is actually meant to age? If you have the luxury of a second bottle of any particular wine, enjoy a glass tonight and come back to the bottle tomorrow (or even the next day). Any improvement or stability in the wine after it has been opened shows structure that indicates potential cellar aging capacity.

You also want to sleuth out tannins. More tannins when young (even if they aren’t quite friendly at the moment) signal the benefits of cellar time. Tannins act as preservers, thanks to their antioxidant components. High tannins plus good acidity are hallmarks of age-ability.

Fortified wines generally do very well when aged, a functional component of why they were ‘invented’ back in the day when wines traveled the seven seas to make their way to Great Britain. Not to swing away from our theme of Italian wines here, Vermouth and Marsala are two Fortified wines from Italy.

If your wine already looks a bit faded around the edges, it’s probably already hit its stride. We’re looking for vibrant color, to begin with. Vibrant color, good structure, complexity, generous acids and tannins—these all come together now and then again later, after cellar time. The idea is to start with something well built.

Barolo and Amarone are generally estimated to drink well after 10-20 years. Taurasi, comprised of the Aglianico variety, has about 7-10 years for an entry-level wine but can soar for decades when fine-tuned with a combination of elite vintage and vineyard.  Tuscan blends based on Sangiovese and international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot can go anywhere from 5-15 years, depending on the blend. A single blend wine such as Gaglioppo from the Calabria region can sit from 3-5 years in the cellar.

Wines To Try

Luce della Vite Lucente Red 2015 (~$25): A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot

Famiglia Pasqua Amarone DOCG 2013 ($50): 65% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Corvinone and 5% Negrara treated to the appassimento process.

Ippolito 1845 ‘Liber Pater’ Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore 2016 (~$13): 100% Gaglioppo

Fontanafredda Serralunga d’Alba Barolo 2014 ($45): 100% Nebbiolo

Saracosa Governo Toscana IGT 2016 (~$20): A Tuscan blend

Donnachiara Riserva Taurasi 2012 ($55): 100% Aglianico

Italian Food Wine & Travel

Join our writers’ group as we talk about warming Italian red wines on our Twitter chat, January 1, 2019, at 10am central time according to our hashtag #ItalianFWT. Here’s what’s cooking:

Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm gives us Pure Comfort~~Pasta with a Bottle of Aglianico.

Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog prepares A Surf and Turf Feast with Donnachiara Wines.

Here on L’Occasion For Table And Cellar: Warm Up With Italian Wine.

David of Cooking Chat serves up Healthy Bolognese Sauce with a Tuscan Sangiovese.

Jane of Always Ravenous pairs Italian Meatballs with Donnachiara Wines.

Gwendolyn of Wine Predator offers 4 Montepulciano Paired with Osso Bucco Warms Up Winter Italian Style plus #ItalianFWT plans for 2019.

Nicole of Somm’s Table is Cooking to the Wine: Fontanafredda Barolo and Braised Short Ribs with Mushrooms.

Katarina of Grapevine Adventures encourages us to Get Cozy By The Fire With Italian Wine.

Lynn of Savor the Harvest writes about Italian Wine To Warm Your Soul.

Jennifer of Vino Travels is Starting the New Year with the Big Boys: Barolo and Barbaresco.

Our host this month, Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs a 2014 Camilla Barolo + Filet Mignon in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce.


Please note that some of the wines on L’Occasion are media samples, but all opinions are my own and no compensation is ever made.

14 thoughts on “For Table And Cellar: Warm Up With Italian Wine

  1. Ah the question of to age or not! I’ve had all grape varieties you mention but not the specific producers. Thanks for a list of wines for the future.


  2. Looks like you’ve enjoyed a nice solid sampling there to start the new year. Great rules of thumb provided here for aging tips. I’m always watching my bottles trying to determine the best time based on the vintage and type of grape without knowing what’s in the bottle : )


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