Italian wines are so diverse -- incorporating many grapes not grown elsewhere in the world -- that you can have a serious Wine 101 lesson simply by uncorking a few. Invite a couple of friends over, order some Chinese food (What? You've never paired Italian wines with Chinese noodles and seafood dishes? You are missing out!) and start sampling.
In anticipation of spring, and warmer temperatures, I recently sipped an array of Italian whites. Here were my four favorites, perfect for drinking on the patio or pairing with fresh salads of mixed greens -- or that Chinese takeout.
Cantina di Soave 2009 ReMidas Soave, Veneto, Italy ($10)
This is a mellow white wine with light body and a bouquet of wild flowers. Bright lemon flavors emerge near the finish, and crisp mineral notes mingle with a toasty (almost nutty) profile throughout. Garganega, a white-grape varietal indigenous to this region, was used to produce this wine.
Cantina La Vis 2008 "Intaglio" Bianco, Valle di Cembra, Italy ($12)
Here you'll find creamy peach notes and a clean finish. This complex wine is a blend of Muller Thurgau, Chardonnay and Riesling grapes.
Villa Antinori 2009 Bianco Toscana ($14)
This wine is extremely well-balanced, and features grapefruit notes combined with effervescence. You'll find Trebbiano and Malvasia, along with Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio grapes in the blend.
Arnaldo Caprai 2008 Grechetto dei Colli Martani DOC, Umbria, Italy ($20)
Balanced, and with a crisp finish that's laced with lemon-y acidity, this wine features Grechetto grapes, which are of Greek origin. If you like Chardonnay, give this wine a whirl -- you will probably enjoy it very much.