What is ‘Cal-Ital’ Wine? By Master Sommelier Laura Maniec

Wondering what a ‘Cal-Ital’ is? You’re Not alone. Read below for Master Sommelier Laura Maniec’s take on the wine term. And to learn more about Laura and her selection of crowd-pleasing wine tasting sets, visit the Weekly Tasting tab.

“I first learned of the term ‘Cal-Ital’ while working on the opening of B.R Guest Hospitality’s first fine dining Italian restaurant. We curated a selection of Italian wines and California wines made with grapes indigenous to Italy for an authentic Italian experience. We chose wines made in California from beloved grapes such as Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, and Vermentino.

In the 1980’s the term “Cal-Ital” was created to describe the growing trend of California vintners who planted Italian grapes. These vintners brought their wine-making know-how and cuttings of trusted and loved grapevines to the USA when they immigrated – some even filling up suitcases with their beloved vines!

The New World wines are fruitier and the Old World Wines are more subtle and earthy while still sharing other similarities, such as flavors. I like to fantasize about our great-grandparents coming from Italy with their suitcases filled with cuttings of vines and hope that the “New World” would bring great opportunity.

Nowadays, only a handful of vintners continue to explore the possibilities of Italian grapes in California. With such esoteric grapes, these wines allow us to find very good quality wines with a luxurious feel without breaking the bank, so long as we know just where to look.”

So, there you have it, Cal-Ital is essentially Italian wine, by way of California. Find combination wines like this, along with other Italian wines and California wines, in the selection at WTSO.com every day.


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