Brimming with history and beauty, Veneto offers a diverse array of grapes and styles of wines thanks to its many distinct terroirs formed by the presence of the Alps to the north, Lake Garda in the west and the Adriatic Sea to the southeast.
While the word “Veneto” might conjure thoughts of beautiful Venice, for wine lovers “Veneto” is synonymous with “Amarone della Valpolicella” and if not the rich Amarone wines, then maybe the zesty, peachy and smooth white Soave wines, or the sparkling Proseccos exhibiting fresh fruit and flowers.
Geographically Veneto sits in the heart of Alpine, continental and sea influenced climates – where culturally Veneto is at a crossroad of Germanic, Slavic and Latin influence. This combination offers a formidable portfolio of wines and styles.
The cool northern area towards Lake Garda allows for crisp whites and light reds. From Lake Garda and throughout the western and central part of Veneto winters are cold and summers warm with the lakes and hills offering cool breezes. This allows for the making of both light reds such as those from Bardolino on the lake shore, as well as richer Amarone della Valpolicella from north of Verona.
Discover the most productive Italian wine region
Vfeneto is Iftaly’s most productive wine region and boasts half of their total production under DOC and DOCG. Here the big cooperatives are still playing an important role - a completely different situation from Piemonte where there are mostly small and boutique family-owned wineries.
In this north-eastern wine region, nestled in between mountains and the Adriatic Sea we find 53 recognized appellations (43 DOC/G and 10 IGPs), so there is a lot to choose from in terms of great wines. In fact, Veneto is the largest wine growing region in Italy. Veneto moved into this position rather recently as a result of a consistent push among winemakers to produce wines of greater and greater quality.
Did you know that Amarone and Bardolino are made from the same grapes?
Fun fact: The rich Amarone and much lighter Bordolino are actually made with almost the same grape varieties, namely Corvina and Rondinella. Their differences are mostly to do with the winemaking practice – the Amarone comes to life on semi-dried grapes so there is much higher fruit (and sugar) concentration in the must.
Why is Amarone so expensive?
A short answer would be “because of the winemaking style”. After harvesting the grapes in a common practice, let’s say Valpolicella, the grapes are then crushed and fermented. The result is a light, high acid red wine. The fruit for Amarone has a different production method called Appassimento, Grapes are picked a little bit later to ensure full ripeness – usually around mid-October. They are selected and left more or less for 120 days on mats in well-aerated lofts to dry into raisins.
During this period the grapes will lose 30-40% of their weight and when they are pressed the must is very concentrated and with very high sugar content - which translates into 15% or above alcohol percentage. This is why it demands a premium price most of the time.
In the past white Soave, made from Garganega was considered Italy’s most famous wine - though nowadays Prosecco has wider international recognition. Closer to the Adriatic coast and the Venice Lagoon, mountains and hills turn to plains and it is where the refreshing Proseccos are made.
Did you know Prosecco is the most consumed sparkling wine in the world?
Prosecco is Italy’s largest DOC by far, the area extends from Vicenza to Trieste with more than 20.000 ha. Its name comes from the village Prosecco in Friuli. They can be “spumante” when they are fully sparkling or “frizzante” with lower pressure and less bubbles. It can be made with the Charmat method but also with traditional.
In 2009 it became a DOC and the name of the grape was changed from Prosecco to Glera so no one outside the appellation could use the name of Prosecco as it was leading to confusion for consumers.
Although Brut versions exist, the more common are Extra dry (12-17g/l) and Dry (17-32g/l). Prosecco allows of up to 15% addition of international varieties such as Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Grigio which in turn can help to increase alcohol levels and flavours.
The white Greco, may be produced with partially dried grapes in a dessert-like wine near the town of Bianco. This DOC makes it difficult to distinguish the sweet wine from the dry Greco di Bianco version, which is one of their most well-known products.
In the year 2020 (to be consumed in 2023) the rose’ version of Prosecco DOC - made from Glera and Pinot Noir in a proportion of 10-15% - was approved for production with the estimate that it could see the release of 30 million bottles per year.
Have you ever tasted the Prosecco col fondo?
Prosecco col fondo is a traditional style which produces slightly cloudy, dry wines in a Frizzante style. The label must state the phrase” rifermentazione in bottiglia” - refermentation in bottle. Here the second fermentation is in bottle and the wine is left undisgorged and is bone dry.
In addition, Veneto is commonly recognized for its easy drinking, floral Pinot Grigio. It is so famous that it has become a wine style - winemakers across the world who produce Pinot Grigio in the lighter Italian style simply state Pinot Grigio on the label, whereas if a more structured wine is made, they call is Alsace Pinot Gris.
Bubbly. Crisp, full-bodied and sweet whites. Light, full bodied and rich reds. It is difficult to cook a meal where you cannot find a Veneto wine to match.
The wine lover can taste everything they want from rich reds, light bodied fruity reds, rose’ and white to lively sparkling and delicious sweet wines.What are the most popular grape varieties in Veneto?
For sure the most known are the red ones use in Valpolicella: Molinara, Rondinella, Corvina and Corvinone. As white grapes we need to mention Glera, Pinot Grigio and Garganerga. What types of food works well with wines from Veneto?
Light reds: pizza friendly, white meats or tomato pasta. Full-bodied reds: grilled meat and barbeque. Whites: pasta with vegetables, risotto with mushrooms or the local baccalà alla vicentina.