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Italy probably has more diversity of wines and wine grapes than any other country. Here are just a few to give you a hint of the treasures it has to offer.
Marche, Italy, $16
This is the type of wine that always makes me sit up and take notice. Made from an obscure grape (lacrima) from a small appellation — and only a handful of producers make it — it is darn good. Fans of dolcetto will share my enthusiasm for this deliciously fruity, easygoing red. Enjoy it by itself, or pair with lighter dishes and snacks, or a good conversation. Alcohol by volume: 13 percent.
Distributed by Bacchus: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, MacArthur Beverages, Modern Liquors, Rodman's; on the list at BlackSalt, Himitsu, Mintwood Place, Rasika. Available in Maryland at Piazza Italian Market in Easton.
Salento, Italy, $14
This dark, savory red is ideal for roasted or grilled meats and hearty pasta dishes. It seduces with dark cherry and plum flavors, seasoned with wild herbs. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Central Liquors, Daily 14, Paul's of Chevy Chase, Pearson's, Radici, Streets Market and Cafe (14th Street), Watergate Vintners & Spirits; on the list at Dish+Drinks. Available in Maryland at Bin 201 Wine Sellers in Annapolis, Dawson's Liquors in Severna Park, Dulaney Wines & Spirits in Towson, Village Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville, Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Black Market Bistro in Garrett Park. Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria; on the list at Northside 10 in Alexandria.
Sicily, Italy, $15
This is a delightful, light pink rosé, or "rosato" in Italian, made from Nero d'Avola. Don't think of it just for autumn warm spells; it is just right for casual sipping and for lighter dishes such as salads. ABV: 11.5 percent.
Distributed by Stefano Selections: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Potomac Wine & Spirits, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe; on the list at Cafe Milano. Available in Maryland at the Italian Market in Annapolis, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick.
Tuscany, Italy, $18
Here's a good Tuscan red that goes beyond "spaghetti wine," with dried cherry, cocoa and sage flavors carried through a medium to long finish. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Distributed by DMV: Available in the District at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Paul's of Chevy Chase, Yes! Organic Markets (various locations). Available in Maryland at 5 O'clock Wine & Spirits in Owings Mills, Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits and Mills Fine Wine and Spirits in Annapolis, Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John, Cheers & Spirits in Arnold, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and Finewine.com in Gaithersburg, Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville, Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda, Goska's Liquors in Severna Park, Grosvenor Market in Rockville, Jason's Wine and Spirits and Petite Cellars and Wine Bin in Ellicott City, Lewes Market Liquor & Wine in Chestertown, Lyndwood Square Wine & Spirits in Elkridge, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick, Patuxent Wine and Spirits in Lusby, Pitt Stop Beer and Wine and Rita's World of Wine, Beer & Spirits in Berlin, Potomac Beer & Wine in Rockville, the Wine Rack in Fruitland, the Winery in Chester, Town Center Wine & Spirits and Yes! Organic Market in Hyattsville, Village Pump Liquors in College Park, Waugh Chapel Village Wine & Spirits in Gambrills.
Abruzzo, Italy, $12
With its simple, delicious orchard and citrus fruit flavors, this is an ideal wine to enjoy before dinner. It's also good with light lunches and salads. ABV: 13 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Bacchus Wine Cellar, Best in Liquors, Capital City Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Eye Street Cellars, Magruder's, Oasis Gourmet Deli, Open Door Market, Rodman's, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, Virginia Market, Yes! Organic Market (various locations). Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John, Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda, Brother Liquors and Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Cork & Bottle Liquors in Laurel, Country Boy Market in Wheaton, Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold, Frederick Wine House, Old Farm Liquors, Riverside Liquors in Frederick, Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Laurel, Wine Source and Trinacria Foods in Baltimore, the Wine Harvest in Gaithersburg.
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.