Wine: Regions to be cheerful
While Italy is one of the largest producers of wine in the world, its whites are often regarded as simple.
Four regions in central Italy are making an effort to add more character and flavour to their white wines: Umbria, Italy's land-locked region famous for its Orvieto; Emilia-Romagna, home of Parma ham, Parmesan cheese and Bolognese sauce; Marche (pronounced mar-kay) and Abruzzo, two mountainous regions hugging the coastline.
Pecora, the Italian for sheep, gives it name to both the Pecorino grape and Italian cheeses made from sheep's milk. While an ancient grape variety, its tiny yields made it non-commercial and almost extinct until saved in the 1980s. Grown mostly in Marche and Abruzzo, its high acidity matches well with oily and creamy dishes.
Trebbiano is often added to a blend of more flavoursome grape varieties to perk up the acidity and add freshness. It is popular with olive oil-dressed salads with chicken, white fish or cheeses.
Verdicchio is derived from verde for the tint of a green hue the almost colourless wines can have.
1) DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2011 by Sartarelli, Marche 13pc
Very characterful with almond aromas and a silky smooth texture revealing nutty flavours. The long finish has lemony fruit and a mineral and fennel note. Popular with the local rich seafood stew, Brodetto di Pesce.
€14.50 at jnwine.com
2) Trebbiano-Chardonnay 2010 by Nespolino, Rubicone, Emilia-Romagna 12.5pc
An uncomplicated and enjoyable crowd-pleaser of a wine. Ripe melon and red apple aromas and flavours are refreshing and simple. Snack with baked potato and grated cheddar with chives.
€11.50-€11.95 at The Little Green Grocer, 6 Parliament Street, Kilkenny. In Dublin at The Corkscrew, Chatham Street; Baggot Street Wines; Red Island Wines, Skerries; D-Six, Harold's Cross; Fallon and Byrne, Exchequer Street and Taste of Emilia, Liffey Street.
3) Ciu Ciu 2012 by Tebaldo, Marche 13.5pc
A very fragrant wine displaying floral rose scents. The Chardonnay adds body, Sauvignon Blanc the crisp acidity and Pinot Grigio the freshness. Matches oriental chicken or seafood dishes.
€13 at Wines Direct Shop, Mullingar and winesdirect.ie
4) Pecorino 2012 by Cantina Frentana, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo 13pc (Vino Biologico)
Refreshing acidity and attractive almond nutty flavours and finish. Enjoy with roast chicken and a walnut and thyme stuffing.
€15.95 at Quintessential Wines, Drogheda and quintessentialwines.ie
5) Pecorino 2010 by Pehhcora, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo 13pc
Ripe melon fruit contrasted by almond aromas and flavours. Serve with grilled lemon sole and celeriac mash.
€16.50 at Superquinn nationwide
6) Torre di Giano 2011 by Lungarotti, Umbria IGT 12pc
An interesting mix of Vermentino, Trebbiano and Grechetto. Olive oil and nut aromas. Try with a salami-topped pizza.
€17.50 at Morton's, Beechwood and Hatch Street, Dublin.