Wines of the Veneto

Everyone knows that in Italy, the Chianti region of Tuscany is wine country. But some of my favorite wines of all time are from the Veneto, and I'd recommend the three wines below to anybody. In the order I'd drink them:

1) Prosecco

A white bubbly wine made from grapes grown just north of Venice, Prosecco is a common before-dinner drink. I've had many a prosecco in an Italian bar, munching on a small dish of olives and chatting with friends on where to head for dinner. In recent years Prosecco has become much more widely distributed outside of Italy, and we often have it instead of champagne – I find it just as tasty, and it costs much less.

2) Valpolicella

This is my favorite everyday Italian wine. It can be drunk young, is inexpensive, can be found virtually everywhere and is just yummy. It's my standard always-reliable wine for dinner parties.

3) Amarone

Amarone is made from the same grapes as Valpolicella (Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella) with this difference during the winemaking: for the Amarone, the grapes are left to dry for 30 – 90 days and must age in oak casks for at least a year. All of the sugar is converted to alcohol, making it quite a strong wine. It's a worthwhile investment, stores well, and is perfect for bringing out on special occasions.

When we moved from Italy to the USA, we brought a couple cases of Amarone with us, and every now and then (the birth of a child, a 40th birthday, a 5th wedding anniversary….) we uncork one, let it breathe an hour, and then savour every swallow.

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