Garganega is an interesting name in the wine industry, simply because you won't find a wine by that name anywhere. It's actually the grape used to make Soave, a white wine native to northern Italy. The grapes grown around the medieval town of Soave are the most famous, cultivated in volcanic soil that helps nurture their distinct flavor. If they aren't used to make Soave, Garganega grapes are typically used in blends with Chardonnay and Trebbiano.
Garganega is almost non-existent outside of Italy, but along with Soave, the regions of Vicenza, Verona and Umbria are all popular areas to grow the grape. As a result, it's the sixth-most-popular grape in Italy.
Although Soave has been made since Roman times, it's still an outlier in the Italian wine industry, making it affordable and a steal among other dry white wines. While sparkling options are available (known as Soave Spumante), Soave usually comes in two styles: regular Soave and Soave Classico.
The regular Soave wine is aged in stainless steel tanks, while Soave Classico gets the wooden barrel treatment. Both are light-bodied, but the Classico adds a thicker, richer kick at the end. Both offer flavors including marjoram, honeydew melon, orange zest and peach, with the Classico throwing in a nuttiness from the aging process.
Higher-quality Soave is aged for five years or more and takes the sweetness to another level. Honey, marmalade, beeswax, lemon and fennel seed all make their way to the main stage with five-star results. Anything that says "Superiore" on the bottle has been aged for at least eight months and will often give brighter, more pronounced tasting results.
Soave is a popular appertif, stimulating your appetite, and goes well with many dishes. Save room for a glass of Soave with Asian dishes, curries, chicken, seafood and pasta with light sauces.
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