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The World Cup of Wines

world cup wines
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The World Cup starts tomorrow! Whether you are swept up in the United States’ chances in the Group of Death without Landon Donovan, Brazil taking home the trophy as the host nation, or catching some of the magic of Argentina’s Lionel Messi, it’s a time to celebrate.

Since this is the World Cup after all, we’ve picked five wines from around the globe that you should have on hand over the next month while you watch as the champion of the “World’s Game” is crowned.

First, there is the Tenuta Frescobaldi di Catiglioni from Italy. The Italians are always a favorite in the World Cup and this 2010 blended Tuscan red wine is a favorite of ours. With its ruby red color, rich notes of cherry, currant, strawberry and blueberry, and hints of spice, this is the perfect wine for the passionate fan.

The reigning World Cup champions are from Spain, a country that is no slouch, and perhaps slightly underrated when it comes to wine consideration, and the Naiades, D.O. Rueda is no exception. We’ve already paired this wine, with its sweetness and touch of minerality on the finish, alongside a fish dinner and needless to say, there were no regrets.

Portugal’s top player, Cristiano Ronaldo has fought through a leg injury to represent his team in the world’s most famous tournament. If you feel for the guy (though with his looks and his bank roll it’s hard to feel bad for Ronaldo), pick up a bottle of 2009 Sino da Romaneira, a light, floral red wine from the Douro region of Portugal.

Finally, when you think of Argentina, you think of healthy portions of steak with chimichurri, and most likely you think of the best soccer player on the planet: Lionel Messi. The Argentineans are poised to make another deep run in the World Cup behind La Pulga (“the Flea”). If you’re behind the Argentines, then you’ll be opening up a bottle of Cultivate’s “The Gambler” Malbec from 2011. While Malbecs aren’t known for their “nimbleness” like Messi, The Gambler is an approachable Malbec with a strong backbone and aromatic notes of eucalyptus and tobacco leaf. Trust us, you’ll enjoy it.

All you have to do is uncork a few bottles and enjoy the games. Just make sure to brush your teeth periodically. Nobody likes wino mouth.

Editors' Recommendations

Matt Domino
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Domino is a writer living in Brooklyn. His fiction has appeared in Slice and The Montreal Review, while his non-fiction…
Soave Used To Be The Most Popular Italian White Wine in The U.S. Here’s How It Has Changed
guide wine dryness white in glass on table

About fifty years ago, Soave was the most popular Italian wine in the states. For a hot minute, the white even outsold Chianti.
Those were the days. Today, the northern Italian wine is more obscure stateside, tucked away in bottle shop aisles and on restaurant by-the-glass lists. This isn't to say to it's not worth tracking down, though, as the workhorse white is great on its own or paired with Italian dishes like gnocchi or squid-ink pasta. 
Soave is a regional reference, not a grape one. There’s a medieval commune by the same name that’s home to about 7,000 people. The wine is made from a handful of approved varieties, including Verdicchio and Garganega. The latter must be at least 70% of the wine to take on the Soave title.
In its native Italy in the province of Verona, the Garganega grape does especially well, a late-ripening grape that boasts thick enough skins to fend off the incessant mist of the region. The Po Valley is famous for such humidity, especially in the fall when the grapes ripen and are most susceptible to disease pressure.

The Soave Classico region was designated such back in 1927. Generally, the soils of the west side of the region are limestone-based, producing bigger, fruit-driven wines. On the opposite side, the soils are volcanic, leading to wines that can show a more focused minerality. No red wine is produced in Soave (although Valpolicella is made nearby) and the area has several co-ops that vinify wine together.
Soave is generally light-to-medium bodied, with fruity flavors that fall somewhere between a Pinot Gris and a Chardonnay. Many suggest the mass-produced options offer nutty flavors and even a slight bitterness. Producers have pushed lighter, more approachable takes lately, making for trim wines that show melon and citrus and pair well with summer salads and lighter pastas.
Critics of the wine point to the region's rather large boundaries and some producers' tendency to push for heavy crop loads. The region absorbed some lesser growing zones during the height of Soave's popularity to keep up with demand and focused more on quantity than quality. But today's Soave benefits from two things: Established old vines in the areas where it truly flourishes, and the present generation of winemakers, many of whom are looking to make memorable, contemplative wines.

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What’s Valpolicella? Exploring One of Italy’s Most Famous Wine Regions

Valpolicella is one of Italy’s most famous winegrowing regions, but most of us stateside know very little about it.
To begin, it resides in the north close to Venice in the Verona region, near Alto Adige. Winemaking goes back thousands of years, all the way to the ancient Greeks. It remains a cornerstone of the region today, based predominantly the approved grape varieties of Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara.
Valpolicella’s most famous boozy export is likely amarone, a hefty wine made from grape skins. This stuff comes in hot, often surpassing the 15% ABV mark and showing deep, concentrated fruit tones with very little acid. The fruit tends to get harvested later, when the rains come in, making disease pressure a real issue. Fending off potential faults and flaws is one of the biggest challenges in making amarone.
Strangely enough, Valpolicella is also known for the opposite — a bright and fresh red wine that begs for summer weather. It’s the kind of feathery yet flavorful red you can chill and should accompany you often as you bring fresh produce, seafood, and poultry out to your grill.
Much of this freshness comes from the climate. Neighboring Lake Garda and the Adriatic Sea keep conditions pretty temperate. The “classico” zone resides to the north in the many folds of the Monti Lessini topography, cooler still thanks to winds coming in from the Alps. An estimated 40% of the region’s wine production occurs here.
Some of the freshness is owed to the cellar style, which is somewhat inspired by nouveau (famous for Beaujolais). Fermentations are cool, aging is limited, and the resulting wines are light and fruity on the palate, showing things like sour cherry and pomegranate. Intriguingly, they tend to manage to hold on to some Old World-ness as well, in the form of moderate earth and spice.
In addition to the above grapes, there’s also Barbera, Sangiovese, and Bigolona. More intrepid vintners are looking to bring back native varieties like Oseleta as well, adding another voice to the local terroir conversation. A sweeter style, dubbed recioto, is also quite popular in Valpolicella. The name refers to the ear-like sections at the top of some fruit clusters, which tend to be the richest as they get the most sunshine and produce the most sugar.
While young, another popular Valpolicella style is Ripasso. It emerged in the late 20th Century and involves bringing in some of the pomace (or, fruit pressing remains) or partially-dried grapes from the recioto and amarone styles during maceration. It offers more structure and body without overwhelming the palate. It's become more and more popular since the 1980s and in 2009, ripasso earned true DOC recognition. 
You don't have to switch over entirely to whites and Roses during the summer stretch and Valpolicella is tasty proof. Here are a few to try:

Tenuta Sant’Antonio "Nanfrè" Valpolicella

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What’s Verdejo? Exploring Spain’s Ancient White Wine Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc white wine on a table

Wine remains an incredible frontier with new discoveries around every corner. Some varieties, like Verdejo, are tied to one specific part of the planet and therefore can remain relatively hidden. But that doesn’t mean the Spanish white isn’t worth seeking out.
Fans of Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc should pay attention to this tasty white. In Rueda, in north central Spain, it’s world-famous, accounting for the vast majority of plantings. It was introduced in the 11th century and enjoyed a long span of vitality before phylloxera put a squeeze on the entire European wine scene. But Verdejo crawled back to life, regaining some notoriety in the 1970s and receiving its own denomination status a decade later.
Today, the grape is beloved for its citrus and nutty elements. While fresh, it’s a white that can stand to age a few years, developing added smoothness and texture over time. The Spanish love to harvest the fruit at night, which keeps the clusters cool and can prevent oxidation in the cellar. It’s prone to mildew, but much of the land where it’s planted in Spain is subject to soothing Atlantic Ocean winds which ventilate the rows and keep the rot at bay.
To put Verdejo in perspective, there’s quite a bit of the stuff, it’s just found a real niche in Spain. But as Chardonnay is to Burgundy and Sauvignon Blanc is to New Zealand, Verdejo is to Rueda. More than 70 producers operate out of Rueda, a number that is bested only by fellow Spanish regions Ribera del Duero and Rioja. Producers generally opt for clean wines fermented and aged in stainless steel.
In some settings, like the granular soils in and around Segovia, 150-year-old rootstock still produces stunning Verdejo fruit. And, as is the case with so many regions, the newest generation is experimenting and toying with tradition, employing new techniques and equipment to show a different side of the age-old white grape.
Why Verdejo? Well, as the weather warms and we prepare lighter fare for our meals, it’s an ideal running mate. The old wine adage is that if you’re eating something you’d squeeze some fresh lime onto, Verdejo should be there, too. Which is quite rational, given the wine’s zesty punch. What’s interesting about Verdejo, though, is while light and bright, it’s also pretty full-bodied. It’s rarely flabby, but it is a big-boned white with more weight on the palate than many of its sibling varieties.
In addition to citrus, the favor profile tends to include things like melon rind, almond, stone fruit, freshly cut grass, and even a pinch of anise.
Ready to dive in? Here are a few worth checking out:

Barco del Corneta Verdejo

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