Sip Tripper

A sensory journey through Italy’s wine regions

History, culture, and terroir in a bottle

From the sun-drenched vineyards of Sicily to the coastal breezes of Sardinia and the hillsides of the Friuli Colli Orientali region, these 6 wines of Italy capture history, culture, and terroir in both red and white wines, all worthy of sharing.

#1 - Collezione Privata 2019 Old Vines Varvaglione Primitivo di Manduria

This Old Vines Varvaglione is a superb expression of an iconic Italian varietal. With its deep complexity, luscious fruit flavors, and elegant structure, it offers a truly indulgent tasting experience. Whether enjoyed on its own or paired with a sumptuous meal such as pasta Bolognese, braised lamb shanks, wild mushroom risotto, or grilled ribeye steak, this wine showcases the exceptional quality and character of Primitivo from the Manduria region.

In the glass, this Primitivo exudes a deep, garnet hue with hints of violet at the rim. The bouquet is intensely aromatic, with layers of ripe blackberries, plums, and cherries. Subtle hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and clove add complexity, while delicate floral notes linger in the background.

On the palate, this wine offers a velvety texture with soft, supple tannins that caress the tongue. Rich flavors of dark berries, black currants, and figs dominate, accompanied by nuances of baking spices and a touch of espresso. The wine’s well-balanced acidity provides freshness and vibrancy, while its full-bodied nature delivers a lingering, satisfying finish. Approximately $35/bottle.

#2 – Livio Felluga 2019 Terre Alte

The 2019 Terre Alte by Livio Felluga is a masterpiece of Italian winemaking, highlighting the essence of the Friuli Colli Orientali region with unparalleled elegance and sophistication. At 100 years old, the founder and patriarch, Livio Felluga, was accredited with innovating and mastering modern winemaking in Italy. Back from WWII, he sealed a deep bond with the hillsides of Friuli by reviving the vineyards of Rosazzo, later establishing him as “the patriarch of the wines of Friuli.”

Terre Alte is a white wine blend of Friulano, Pinot Bianco, and Sauvignon, and its name is a nod to the hillside vineyards from which the grapes are sourced. From its captivating aromatics to its luxurious texture and vibrant acidity, every sip reveals a new layer of complexity and intrigue. A true expression of terroir and craftsmanship, this wine is sure to captivate and enchant discerning oenophiles, making it a worthy addition to any cellar or special occasion.

In the glass, a luminous, straw-yellow color with golden reflections hints at its richness and maturity. The bouquet is exquisitely complex, offering an enticing array of aromas such as jasmine, ripe peach, apricot, and pear. A trace of minerality underscores the wine’s elegance. On the palate, a lush, creamy texture envelops with vibrant acidity for freshness and lift. Flavors of ripe stone fruits and citrus zest take center stage, supported by layers of honeyed richness and a subtle touch of spice. The wine’s long, lingering finish is marked by a captivating interplay of fruit, acidity, and minerality, leaving an impression.

Pair this sophisticated Terre Alte with refined seafood dishes such as grilled scallops with citrus salsa, lobster risotto, or seared halibut with beurre blanc. Its vibrant acidity and nuanced flavors will complement the delicate flavors of the seafood beautifully. The 2018 version sells for approximately $100 at Total Wine.

#3 – Cantina Zaccagnini 2021 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Wow. Just wow. And with no barrel aging! Italy has once again won me over. But this time it is not about the food. It is about this vino of Abruzzo. And yes, this wine pairs well with any Italian red sauce dish, including pizza.

From the onset, it’s a masterpiece that stuns in its bottle presentation. Glued under the label is a parchment rope that holds a clipped piece of the grapevine – “dal tracetto.” Who does this?

And once uncorked, a pour of deep ruby hue leads to an aroma of ripe black cherry, blackberry, and a hint of violet. You might even get a leather and spice note if your senses are at peak performance. On the palate, velvety tannins and lush texture enter with flavors of dark plum, mocha, and a touch of earthiness leading to a long and satisfying finish. Total Wine is selling this amazing find at a bottle price of $12.

#4 – Gurrieri 2021 Sicilia Grillo

This exceptional Sicilian white wine was crafted with grapes grown in Mazzaronello, a district in Chiaramonte Gulfi (RG) and Cicogne district in Comiso (RG), Sicily. It is vibrant and expressive, showcasing the sun-kissed terroir of Sicily with finesse and charm. Radiating a straw-yellow hue in the glass, and on the nose, aromas of ripe citrus fruits including lemon and grapefruit that mingle in harmony with delicate floral notes and a slight hint of herbs. On the palate, a refreshingly crisp and zesty acidity provides the backbone to flavors of juicy pineapple, green apple, and a touch of minerality on the lingering finish. If you can find a bottle ( is sold out), pricing is approximately $22.

#5 – Cantina Mesa 2021 Vermentino di Sardegna Opale

If you’re cooking fish for dinner, grab a bottle of this Sardinian wine as the perfect pairing. This wine is a luminous gem in the glass, radiating with the brilliance of Sardinia’s sun-blessed vineyards. Delicate aromas of ripe citrus, white peach, and hints of herbs transport you to the island’s coastal landscapes where the sea breezes mingle with the fragrant flora. On the palate, this Vermentino captivates with lively acidity and graceful texture, displaying flavors of Meyer lemon, green apple, and a tangy minerality, courtesy of the nearby Mediterranean shores. Each sip unfolds like a story, revealing layers of complexity and nuance, culminating in a refreshingly vibrant finish. You may not be able to find a bottle of the 2021, but the 2022 bottle is available and priced around $22.

#6 –San Salvatore 2019 'Elea' Paestum Greco IGP

Southern Italy’s ancient Paestum region captures the expression of its Greco grape. This wine has a bit of French oak aging to add complexity. Its luminous straw hue opens to a bouquet of white flowers, ripe pear, with hints of citrus zest, all attributed to the orchards and coastal breezes of Campania on the Cilento coast. Its vibrant acidity is noted. Check your nearby wine shops for a bottle priced around $35.

Charlene Peters is a wine writer and author of “Travel Makes Me Hungry.