How to Order
Wine in Italy

How to Order Wine in Italy

There is so much to know about wine that the simple lack of knowledge can be intimidating. In fact, it can downright scare people away from trying wine out of fear of incorrectly pairing the wine, not knowing the etiquette, or even not knowing how to pronounce the wine type. First of all, understand that the current movement in the wine world, among many connoisseurs at least, is to do away with the rules entirely. You no longer have to know what red pairs with what meat or which piece of glassware is appropriate for a blush in order to be accepted at the table. Things like, “1943, what a great vintage!” are, essentially, no longer part of the conversation. Whew. Here’s what you DO need to know.

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What Kind of Wine Should You Order?

Most beginners start with white wine. Whites are generally less intense and are served cool, which is more palatable for many. A great place to start is with a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. You really can't go wrong ordering a Chardonnay as it happens to be the most popular white wine, potentially THE most popular wine, in the world.

When you’re ready to try a red, make sure to discuss with your waiter or sommelier what you enjoy about wine in general. Do you prefer it to be smooth, or do you like a little coarseness to the flavor? A great introduction to red wines is a Merlot, though the Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red in the world.

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Pairing Italian Wine

While it still exists, proper pairing is kind of a thing of the past. No one turns up their nose at a pairing that may have once been seen as cliché. If you want to try and pair your foods with your wine, there is a simple rule of thumb. Match your wine color to your meat color. Red meat, red wine. White meat, white wine. If you want to go a bit more in-depth, try matching flavor palates to the wine. Bolder, savory flavors call for reds, while delicate or sweeter flavors typically pair well with white.

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Visit Italy and order a glass or two (or three) of wine!

Even if you’re not a regular drinker, wine in Italy is something you should absolutely surrender to during your travels.

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Table Etiquette and Italian Wine

Wine glasses are served half full on purpose. This is to allow the aromas and flavors to “breathe” and resonate a bit better.

You don’t have to sniff. Yes, many wine enthusiasts will swirl their wine and take a hearty smell before consuming it. They do this to get a feel for the aromas and essences in the wine. But, if you’re new, don’t feel intimidated if all you smell is wine, and don’t feel obligated to swirl and sniff at all.

Never be afraid to ask for advice! Wine experts are only too happy to share their knowledge with an inspired student!

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Ordering Wine in Italian

“Prendo un bicchiere di (wine name), per favore.” I’ll take a glass of (wine name), please.

“Solo un bicchiere.” Just one glass.

If you want to order another glass, ask the server for “un altro” – another.

“Prendiamo una bottiglia di rossa della casa, per favore.” We’ll take a bottle of house red wine, please.

Or if you would like to order a specific bottle, say, “Prendiamo una bottiglia di (wine name), per favore.”

Once the server brings the bottle over, he or she will ask, “Chi assaggia?” Who is tasting?

The taster will look at the wine, smell the wine, and take a sip. If the wine is good, the taster will say, “Buono!”

If the wine tastes off or “corked” – indicated by a musty, wet cardboard smell or dull taste that lacks fruit – say, “Non mi piace.” I don’t like it. And the server will help you choose a different bottle.

Quick Reference: Italian Wine Vocabulary

To get by, try starting with these basic ideas and terms. That way, you'll get an idea of where to go for what, what certain terms mean.

Wine – Vino

A bottle - Una bottiglia

A bottle - Una bottiglia

A glass - Una bicchiere

A taste or sample - Un assaggio

Red/White/Rosé - Rosso/Bianco/Rosato

Sparkling wine - Vino spumante

Sweet wine - Vino dolce

Dry wine - Vino secco