I’m having an Italian-themed dinner party. What wines should I serve?

How to Drink Better: there are plenty of really interesting Italian wines to choose from

Going Italian sounds great; it is easy to prepare and always popular. There are plenty of really interesting Italian wines to choose from. As your guests arrive you could pour them a glass of well-chilled Prosecco, but it might be nice to offer an Italian cocktail. Aperol Spritz is refreshing and not too alcoholic, or alternatively a Negroni always goes down well. Serve some grissini and maybe some olives and nuts with your aperitivo.

Most Italian dinners seem to start with mixed antipasti – grilled vegetables, cold meats and cheeses, or maybe some bruschetta or arancini. Italy has plenty of light, crisp, dry white wines that would go perfectly with all of the above. Pinot Grigio would do nicely as would Gavi, Soave or a Verdicchio. Alternatively, you could serve an Italian rosé, such as a Pinot Grigio Rosato or a Bardolino Chiaretto of you can find one. If you want to offer a red wine too, a light Valpolicella or Pinot Nero would work well here.

If you are serving a lighter main course (or a pasta course) a light-bodied red, such as the two above, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, or a frappato from Sicily would do nicely. If your main course has red meat and tomato sauce (ie lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese) a bigger red wine is called for. A nero d’avola from Sicily, a primitivo from Puglia, a barbera or a merlot.

Richer more substantial dishes call for more full-bodied wines. If you are having Bistecca alla Fiorentina (a Tuscan steak) a beef stew like brasato, you could serve a Chianti Classico, a Ripasso or even a Barolo.


To go with your dessert a Vin Santo would be great but expensive. Instead, why not treat your guests to a lightly fizzy, off-dry Moscato d’Asti? They are light in alcohol and add a nice refreshing at the end of a heavy meal.

Lastly, if you are having a big gang around and want to keep it simple, and not too expensive, Soave is fairly reliable light dry white wine, and my go-to all-purpose Italian red wine would be Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Both are widely available in most supermarkets and wine shops.