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Red Italian Wines - California Wines

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Many of the California winegrowers are of Italian descent and numerous grape varieties have been imported from Italy, many of which have proved very successful in the California climate and soil. The Italian taste in wines has also been very influential, whether the varieties used were of Italian origin or not.

California red table wines of Italian type form a distinct group. They are usually full-bodied with a pronounced character which can be described as Italian, the particular flavor depending on the wine.

A popular generic wine of this group is California chianti. In recent years another generic type, a mellow red table wine, similar to that produced by so many Italian and other home wine makers, has won wide acceptance. For purposes of class identification this type of wine has been called "Vino Rosso" in the Guide.

The best-known varietal of this group is Grignolino; others are Barbera and Charbono.

Use and Service-Both California chianti and Vino Rosso are suitable with almost any meal, especially of the more informal kind. All red Italian table wine types, both varietal and generic, are especially suitable, naturally, with Italian dishes of any kind.

Serve at room temperature. Some, however, prefer their Grignolino or Vino Rosso slightly chilled, as chilling, especially of the Vino Rosso types, seems to bring out their flavor better.


The grape is one of the many California varieties which are native to Piedmont in Italy, and produces a wine with an original and popular appeal.

California Grignolino is usually light or even orange red in color and is sometimes bottled as a natural rose (see there). The bestknown wines of this type hail from the Cucamonga district in Southern California, while other fine ones come from the northern region, notably Solano and Napa counties.


Another native of Piedmont which has done very well in California. As a varietal type, it is a big, rugged, full-bodied, richly colored, robust wine with plenty of flavor and tang and needs some aging to reach its peak. Notable Barberas are produced in Napa and in Alameda.


Also said to originate in Piedmont, this grape can produce a deepcolored, soft, and heavy-bodied wine, best known in the Napa Valley.

GENERICS: California Chianti

When Chianti is referred to as such, it is assumed to be red. In California it is usually marketed, as in Italy, in raffia- or strawcovered, bulb-shaped bottles.

In Tuscany, the home of Chianti, the wine is produced mainly from the Sangioveto grape. In California Chianti has become a type of wine, ruby red, fruity, rather full-bodied, medium tart, and with a pronounced and characteristic Italian flavor. It is produced from a number of grape varieties, usually blended to type.

The typical Chianti bottles are attractive also because of their decorative value and are much used as candleholders.

Vino Rosso

This type of wine, usually quite mellow and slightly sweet, is similar in character to the homemade red table wines produced by many throughout the country. The commercial wine, one of the least expensive of all types, has won wide acceptance. Many wine growers produce it, labeling it with various Italian names. The original edge of dryness in the wine is sometimes removed by the addition of a slight amount of port.

Vino Rosso comes in all sizes, from gallon containers to splits.


A rough and rather coarse red table wine with plenty of body. Barberone literally means "Big Barbera," but is often a stranger to the grape of that name.