In an effort to show the class and aging powers of fine Italian wines, the Italian Trade Commission sponsored a most unusual tasting in New York City earlier this month. Ten wines, each at least 20 years old, had been chosen by a panel. these wines, their makers and a younger vintage of each wine from the same producers were presented to the press.

To the surprise of some, Lungarotti's Torgiano Rubesco Riserva, 1956, and Michele Mastroberardino's Taurasi Riserva, 1958 stood out among some illustrious companions. The other older wines were: Granduca Barbera d'Asti, 1958; Valtellina Superiore Inferno, 1957, from the Casa Vinicola Enologica; Pio Cesare Barolo, 1953; Marchesi di Barolo, 1945; Frescobaldi Chianti Riserva, 1959; Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva, 1958; Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva, 1955, and Biondi-Santi's Brunello di Montalcino, 1955.

Coincidently, The Italian Wine Promotion Center has just issued a "Vintage Guide to Fine Italian Wines." A small card that folds into wallet size, it lists 27 red classifications (from 1961 through 1977) and 14 white (from 1970 through 1977). The card is available free from the Center, One World Trade Center, Suite 2057, New York, N.Y. 10048.

Here in Washington the Flagship restaurant has just launched a two-week Italian wine and food festival. Italian recipes make up a four-course dinner plus complementary coffee. The wine is chosen from a list of 38 Italian imports, ranging in price from $3.50 to $6.50. In addition, various wholesalers will be offering customers tastings of Italian wines they import at both lunch and dinner. The festival continues each evening until Dec. 11. For additional information, call Joe Edwards at the restaurant, 488-8495.