Elegant Dining, Artisanal Cocktails & Fine Wine

4940 is the restaurant's address in beautiful Corrales, New Mexico, where acres of flowers, organic produce & vineyards provide an amazing backdrop to our elevated American cuisine.

Chef Javier Montano is excited to be a part of the Restaurant Forty Nine Forty team because he loves making people happy with food. He says, “Chefs are an insecure bunch, we put our hearts on every plate served.” Javier also loves sharp things and is most proud of our dry aged steaks.

Lunch It's Italian | Night, Champagne & Wine Bar!

Who doesn't love Italian food? We are excited to have Fancies brining more of a Trattoria feel to Corrales with a delicious menu of six classic lunch plates complemented by a thirst quenching assortment of Italian wines.

Fancies has also undergone a revised ambiance featuring a more luxe feel, offering the ladies an opportunity to dress up those jeans with silk and sit at our new glam Champagne & Wine bar..."MEET ME AT FANCIES"!




Forbes Top 10 Italian wines served in U.S. restaurants

  • La Marca Prosecco, Veneto Sparkling White, $48
  • Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, Veneto Still White, $59
  • Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie, Veneto Still White, $40
  • Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT, Tuscany Still Red, $250
  • Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri Sassicaia, Tuscany Still Red, $462
  • Ruffino Prosecco, Veneto Sparkling White, $45
  • Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia, Tuscany Still Red, $453
  • Lunetta Prosecco, Veneto Sparkling White, $45
  • Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany Still Red, $135
  • Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale, Tuscany Still Red, $60

10 Top Italian Wines

Did you know that Italy produces more types of wine than any other country in the world, with approximately 350 official Italian wine varieties? From the types of grapes used to the production method and how long the wine is aged, each Italian wine is completely unique and has its own exciting flavour profile. Whether you enjoy sparkling, red wine or white wine, dry or sweet, full-bodied or light-bodied, there’s an Italian wine for everyone. But navigating the complex world of Italian wines can be rather intimidating. Below are 10 of the best and most popular Italian wine types to get you started.

1. Prosecco

Prosecco Italian Wine Type
Italian Prosecco.

Type: Sparkling wine. Region: Veneto. Grapes: Glera.

Probably one of the best known Italian wines, Prosecco is an affordable sparkling wine that has gained global recognition and has become a popular alternative to Champagne. As with all wines, there are various degrees of quality of Prosecco with the DOC (good) and DOCG (best) Prosecco originating from Italy’s Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions in the north. Just an hour away from Venice, it’s easy for taking a wine tasting tour if you’re visiting the city.

Prosecco must be produced using 85% Glera grape and is made using the ‘Charmat method’ (or tank method), where the second fermentation happens in tanks. With delicate bubbles and subtle fruity and floral notes, Prosecco can be enjoyed on its own, or mixed to create some of the most well-known Italian cocktails, including Aperol Spritz and Bellini. It’s a great drink to have as a pre-dinner aperitif but, more than that, it can actually accompany every course of your meal if you choose the right food and Prosecco. Find out more in our Prosecco and Food Pairing Guide. And find out more about Prosecco in our guide to What is Prosecco?

2. Franciacorta

Type: Sparkling wine. Region: Lombardy. Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Bianco.

Franciacorta DOGC is another popular Italian sparkling wine, originating from the Providence of Brescia in the Lombardy region. While not quite as well known outside of Italy as Prosecco, Franciacorta has gained more international recognition in recent years.

Known as ‘Italian Champagne’, Franciacorta is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc grapes – also used in Champagne – and is produced using the ‘traditional method’ (or Method Champenoise), where the second fermentation happens in the bottle.

Franciacorta is generally drier than Prosecco but not quite as acidic as Champagne. This quality sparkling wine has a rich and elegant taste, with notes of light citrus and dried fruits, as well as yeast and toasty brioche flavours which come from its fermentation process. It pairs well with white meats, fish and raw seafood, and soft-ripened cheeses like brie. Like cheese? Check out our guide to 14 Types of Italian Cheeses Everyone Must Know and Parmesan Cheese and Its Italian Alternatives.

3. Barolo

Nebbiolo grapes used to produce Barolo red wine. Photo Credit.

Type: Red wine. Region: Piedmont. Grapes: Nebbiolo.

Also originating from northern Italy, this time in the Piedmont region, Barolo is universally known as one of the country’s finest and most popular red wines.

Barolo is a DOGC wine, guaranteeing the highest levels of production and superior quality. It is made from the grape variety Nebbiolo. The black Nebbiolo grape is so tannin-packed that the wine has to age for at least 3 years, 18 months of which must take place in oak or chestnut barrels, to be smooth enough to drink.

The result is a rich and complex full-bodied Italian red wine with signature “rose and tar” aromas and notes of truffle, chocolate, dried fruit, and herbs. Delicious when paired with red meats and strong cheeses.

Similar Italian wine types that also use the Nebbiolo grape are Barbaresco DOGC, Gattinara DOCG and Langhe Nebbiolo DOC.

4. Chianti

Type: Red wine. Region: Tuscany. Grapes: Sangiovese.

If you’ve ever visited the Tuscany region, there’s a good chance that you’ve already heard of Chianti. Chianti is the largest wine-producing region in all of Italy and was one of the world’s earliest legally defined wine-making zones.

Chianti is a dry, red wine made predominantly with the Sangiovese grape, which is native to the region. It’s a high-acidity red wine distinguished by its aromas of cherry, plum, almond, violet, wood, and spices. This popular Italian wine makes a delicious accompaniment to rich tomato-based dishes such as Pasta al Pomodoro or pizza.

The Chianti DOCG denomination is used across the Chianti wine-growing region. However, Chianti Classico DOCG comes from a smaller mountainous region between Florence and Siena and is known to offer a more consistent taste and quality.

5. Primitivo

Type: Red wine. Region: Puglia. Grapes: Primitivo.

Primitivo is another popular Italian red wine, produced in the country’s southern Puglia region. Primitivo is generally more accessible and affordable than many other Italian red wines.

The name Primitivo translates roughly to “early one” due to the grape’s early ripening. Born from ripe black grapes with deep tannins, but holding a hint of sweetness, Primitivo can take a few sips to get used to if you’re used to very dry red wines. It’s bold, full-bodied and high in alcohol, with blueberry, blackcurrant and liquorice notes, and undertones of sweet tobacco and cinnamon.

The Salento IGT winemaking area stretches over the provinces of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto in Puglia and accounts for the largest volume of wine produced in the region, many of which are quality Primitivo wines. Primitivo di Manduria DOC is the most prestigious area for the production of this wine. Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale DOCG is an Italian sweet red wine made from late-harvest Primitivo grapes dried on the vines. It is the rarest type of Primitivo.

If you’re looking for a comparator, there’s a huge debate about whether Italian Primitivo and American Zinfandel are the same grape. Recent DNA research has shown that the two grapes were once the same variety.

6. Amarone della Valpolicella

Type: Red wine. Region: Veneto. Grapes: Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella.

Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG is one of the most prestigious red wines from northern Italy’s Veneto region.

This type of red wine is made predominantly from Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella grapes. The grapes are partially dried (a method known as appassimento) before being slowly pressed, fermented and aged in oak wood barrels for several years. The grape drying method removes water and concentrates sugar, creating a highly complex, full-bodied wine.

Amarone has bold aromas of black cherry, plum, wild berries, carob, cinnamon, and dark chocolate. Some older wines also develop flavours of brown sugar and fig.

Make sure not to mix up Amarone della Valpolicella with Recioto della Valpolicella, an Italian sweet red wine made from dried passito grapes in the same region. Amarone is a much drier red wine with a slight bitterness.

7. Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio. Photo credit.

Type: White wine. Region: Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige. Grapes: Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Grigio is one of the most popular Italian white wines around the world. It is widely grown and produced all over Italy, but the most common production areas can be found in the northeastern regions of Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige.

Pinot Grigio is a light-bodied, delicate and refreshing white wine, with fruity aromas of grapefruit, lime, melon, apple and pear. The Italian dry white wine is best paired with shellfish, vegetables, salads and light pasta dishes.

There are countless different denominations of Italian Pinot Grigio – far too many to list here – but some that we’d recommend trying are Alto Adige DOC, Venezia DOC and Collio DOC.

8. Soave

Type: White wine. Region: Veneto. Grapes: Garganega.

Another of the most popular Italian white wine types is Soave, a DOC wine made from Garganega grapes grown in hillside vineyards surrounding the romantic city of Verona.

Soave is a dry and crisp white wine with fruity and floral notes. Typical flavours include melon, white peach, orange zest and jasmine, with subtle notes of almond and dried herbs. Its high natural acidity makes Soave one of the best Italian wines to pair with many different foods, including shellfish, pork, chicken, cured meats, risottos, vegetables and spicy Asian dishes.

The Soave DOC wine-growing area has grown massively over its history. This led to the creation of Soave Superiore DOCG to distinguish the highest quality white wines from the region. You’ll also find Soave Classico, which refers to wines produced in the original hillside vineyards. Lastly, Recioto di Soave DOCG is a sweet Italian wine also produced in the region.

9. Fiano di Avellino

Type: White wine. Region: Campania. Grapes: Fiano.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG is a high-quality Italian white wine from the Avellino province of Campania. The region’s close proximity to the Apennine Mountains, with a mild microclimate and mineral-rich, volcanic soils, is perfect for producing big and complex high-tannin wines.

Fino di Avellino DOCG is unusually full-bodied for white wine and has a bold aromatic fragrance. Tasting notes include white flowers, peach, apricot, and honey, combined with subtle flavours of dried herbs and nuts. Fiano’s high acidity and minerality make it ideal when drunk alongside fish and seafood dishes.

This southern Italian white wine is also well-known for its capacity to age well. Most Finos need 3-5 years to reach their full aromatic potential, but some of the highest-quality wines can be left for up to 10 years.

10. Cortese di Gavi

Type: White wine. Region: Piedmont. Grapes: Cortese.

Cortese di Gavi, known simply as Gavi, is the most famous and prestigious white wine DOCG from the Piedmont region in northern Italy. It is produced from the indigenous white grape variety Cortese.

Gavi is a crisp and refreshing bone-dry white wine, due to the mineral-rich soils of the area. It has flavours of green apples, lime, honeydew and chamomile, with light aromas of almond and straw.

Gavi DOCG wines are produced in several areas of the province of Alessandria. If you notice ‘Gavi de Gavi’ on the label, it simply means that the particular wine was produced around the town of Gavi. It’s not necessarily an indication of its standard.

14 Popular Italian Cheeses

Some Italian cheeses are eaten on their own as part of an antipasto board. Some make great pizza toppings. Others are best when grated over pasta or salads. A few are even vital components of sweet Italian desserts and pastries. From soft creamy burrata to pungent gorgonzola to hard flakey parmesan, there’s a lot to wrap your head around. To help you out, we’ve listed 14 of the most popular Italian cheeses that everyone needs to know and including how each variety should be used. We’ve put the cheeses in the order of texture from soft to semi-soft and finally hard Italian cheeses. Buon appetito!

Where to eat in the Prosecco region of Italy - Italian Food Osteria Borgoluce

1. Mozzarella

Perhaps the most famous of the Italian cheeses, mozzarella is a soft white cheese originating from the Campania region. It’s produced using the pasta filata, or stretched-curd, method of production. Traditional Italian mozzarella cheese is made from buffalo milk, however, many producers now opt for cheaper cows milk instead. For the highest quality Italian mozzarella, you should still keep an eye out for Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO. It’s much creamier and more flavourful than the cow’s milk variety.

Use for: Mozzarella is most commonly used as a pizza topping, but can also be enjoyed on its own, as a filling in many Italian sandwiches, or as a vital component of a Caprese salad.

2. Stracciatella

Stracciatella is another fresh, soft Italian cheese with a rich, buttery taste and liquidy texture. The name comes from the Italian word straccia, which means ‘rag’ or ‘shred’, as it is made by mixing pulled and shredded mozzarella curds with heavy cream. While some people see stracciatella as a byproduct of mozzarella, it’s actually an extremely popular (and delicious) cheese in its own right. The Italian cream cheese comes from the province of Foggia in southern Italy’s Puglia region. Just like mozzarella, traditional stracciatella is made from buffalo milk.

Use for: With its creamy consistency, stracciatella is best when spread onto a warm piece of bread or toasted crostini with a drizzle of olive oil. It’s great on top of bread for aperitivo (pre-dinner nibbles that go with Italian cocktails such as Aperol Spritz). Similar to mozzarella, it can also be used as a topping for pizzas, pasta and salads. Good to know: Stracciatella can also refer to a flavour of chocolatey Italian gelato and an Italian egg soup, so be sure not to get these three mixed up.

Stracciatella loaded onto a pizza in Milan

3. Burrata

From the outside, you could easily mistake burrata for fresh mozzarella. And you wouldn’t be too far wrong. The outer shell of the burrata is made from soft mozzarella formed into a pouch, while the inside is filled with stracciatella and cream. When you cut into a burrata, creamy cheese comes pouring out. Burrata is also a cheese that originates from southern Italy’s Puglia region, where it was rumoured to have been created by local farmer Lorenzo Bianchino in the early to mid-1900s. In 2016, the original Burrata di Andria was designated an IGP product, meaning its entire production must take place in the defined geographical area of Puglia.

Use for: Burrata’s rich, buttery flavour makes it a great addition to an Italian cheeseboard. It pairs well with cured meats, roasted vegetables, toasted bread and fruit marmalades. Like its two main components, mozzarella and stracciatella, burrata also works nicely in salads and pasta, or as a fresh piazza topping.

Wine pairing: Although many people typically reach for the red when pairing wine and cheese, Prosecco and cheese are a match made in heaven. Processo’s acidity helps it to cut through buttery, creamy cheeses. Try pairing a brut or extra-brut Prosecco with mild soft cheeses such as buffalo mozzarella, burrata, ricotta or gorgonzola.

4. Ricotta

Technically, ricotta is not actually cheese. At least not in the same sense that the others on this list are. Ricotta is a dairy by-product made from whey – the watery liquid left over after cow, sheep or goat cheese is made. However, you can refer to it as a whey cheese, so of course, we couldn’t leave it off of this list. Ricotta is made by reheating the leftover whey and straining the liquid from the curds – the name translates to re-cooked. The finished product is a popular Italian white cheese that has a mild, creamy flavour and crumbly texture. Ricotta is generally less salty than many other kinds of cheese and can even have a subtle sweetness to it.

Use for: Ricotta is perhaps the most versatile Italian cheese. It can be used in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes, from stuffed pasta and toast toppers to a creamy cannoli filling and even to make gelato.

Fresh ricotta is divine drizzled with honey

5. Mascarpone

Mascarpone is one of the creamiest Italian cheeses. In fact, its texture is much more similar to that of a thick double cream than to most other cheeses. It is produced by heating heavy cow’s milk cream with acid to thicken, then straining it. This creates a smooth, spreadable cream cheese with a rich, creamy flavour.

Use for: Mascarpone is most famously used in the Italian dessert of Tiramisu, as well as other desserts such as cheesecakes and fruit tarts. Did you know Tiramisu was created in Treviso in northern Italy?

6. Casu Martzu

Not one that you’ll find on your average Italian cheeses list, but interesting to know about nonetheless, Casu Marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese that contains live insect larvae. Yes, we do mean maggots. It’s an Italian delicacy that supposedly tastes like strong gorgonzola. The bad news is, even if you were feeling brave enough to try Italian maggot cheese, it’s now illegal in all of Italy and across Europe due to how dangerous it is to consume. If you don’t chew it well enough, the live maggots can end up in your intestines. And nobody wants that.

Use for: Nothing. Unless you have contacts in the Italian cheese black market, you won’t be able to get your hands on it anyway. Also: maggots, no thanks.

Sardinian cheese in a deli in Sardinia

7. Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola is the most famous Italian blue cheese and is distinguishable by its greeny-blue veins, pungent smell and strong taste. Originally from the Lombardy region, its distinct flavour is created by adding bacteria to whole cows milk during the ageing process. There are two main types of gorgonzola depending on how long the cheese is aged for. Younger Gorgonzola Dolce is slightly sweeter and creamier, while Gorgonzola Piccante is aged for longer and produces a sharp Italian cheese.

Use for: Gorgonzola is most commonly used in pasta sauces and creamy risottos (gorgonzola, pear & walnut risotto is a must-try). It is also one of the toppings on a classic ‘Quattro Formaggi’, or four cheese, pizza. If adding gorgonzola to your cheese board, which we’d highly recommend doing, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before serving for a softer texture.

8. Fontina

Fontina is a semi-soft cheese that has been produced in northern Italy’s Aosta Valley since the 12th century. It’s another Italian cheese with DOP status, meaning it has to be made using milk from the region’s Valdostana cattle breeds and aged for at least three months in Valle d’Aosta’s natural mountain caves. Fontina is pale yellow in colour and has many bubbly holes in it. It has a complex sweet, earthy and nutty flavour which can vary depending on when the cows are milked and how long the cheese is aged for.

Use for: Fontina becomes extremely silky and gooey when cooked, which makes it a popular melting cheese (much like other Alpine cheeses). It’s often used to make Italian cheese fondue, served with chunks of toasted bread – a popular dish in the colder mountainous regions – or melted on top of chicken or steak.

Cheese plate in Puglia including burrata and ricotta

9. Asiago

Asiago is an aged DOP cheese from northern Italy’s Asiago Plateau, located between Veneto and Trentino. The cheese-making tradition in this region dates back over 1,000 years, but it was only in the 19th century that cows milk replaced sheep’s milk in the cheese produced there. As with many Italian kinds of cheese, the texture and taste of asiago vary depending on how long it is aged. Asiago Pressato, or fresh asiago, is only aged for a month and is a smooth and mild cheese, whereas Asiago d’allevo, or aged asiago, can be aged for up to two years, which produces a crumbly Italian cheese with a sharper and nuttier flavour.

Use for: Fresh Asiago is often eaten alone or as part of a cheeseboard, while Aged Asiago can be used as an alternative to parmesan to grate on pasta, pizza or salad.

10. Scamorza

Scamorza is a southern Italian cow’s milk cheese made using the stretched curd pasta filata method, much like mozzarella. But while scamorza and mozzarella have the same base, scamorza is a drier, lower moisture cheese. The drier texture of scamorza is achieved by hanging, or ‘strangling’ as the Italians so nicely put it, the cheese with a rope and letting it lightly age for a couple of weeks.  The ‘strangling’ is also what gives scamorza its characteristic pear shape. Scamorza can either be sold as it is or is lightly smoked to give it a mild smokey flavour.

Use for: You can substitute mozzarella for scamorza in most dishes, including on pizza and in salads. Smoked scamorza is also delicious when baked and served with toasted bread.

11. Provolone Valpadana

Provolone Valpadana is also made using the same pasta filata method as mozzarella and scamorza, but with a longer ageing process. There are two types of Provolone. Provolone Dolce, which is aged for 1-3 months and has a pale yellow colour and sweet taste. Provolone Piccante is aged for anything between 4-16 months and has a much sharper and spicier taste.

Use for: Provolone is often combined with mozzarella as a pizza topping to give a stronger taste. It is also a great melting cheese so can be used in grilled sandwiches or baked pasta dishes.

Where to eat in the Prosecco Region PER

12. Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan)

Another of the most popular Italian cheeses is Parmigiano-Reggiano, or as it’s more commonly known around the world, parmesan. So what’s the difference? While the name parmesan can be used for this particular type of cows milk cheese produced in the US, Australia or elsewhere in the world (except in Europe), Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP is highly regulated and must come from Italy’s Emilia Romagna region. Often referred to in Italy as the ‘King of Cheeses’, authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano has been produced and eaten in Italy since the Middle Ages. Parmesan is a flakey, hard cheese, with a strong fruity and nutty taste. It can be aged for anywhere between 12 months and 6 years. The longer it’s aged, the more intense the flavour grows.

Used for: Parmesan is a staple in Italian cooking and can be shaved on top of pasta, pizza, bruschetta, soup, omelettes, roasted potatoes, vegetables, salads…pretty much everything savoury and edible.

I’ve written a full guide – Parmesan Cheese and Its Italian Alternatives.

13. Grana Panado

Grana Panado is another hard Italian cheese made using cows milk, but this time from northern Italy’s Po Valley. Its production is predominantly based around the Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto regions. While very similar to parmesan, Grana Panado is only aged for 9 months, so has a slightly more delicate and sweeter taste. It’s also known for its granular texture, with grana meaning grainy.

Used for: Similar to parmesan, Grana Panado is an excellent grating cheese with pasta, salads, roasted vegetables etc. Thanks to its slight sweetness, Grana Panado also works in fruity or nutty desserts, especially alongside figs and berries.

Shopping for cheese at a market in Florence

14. Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty cheese made from Italian sheep’s milk. Originally from Italy’s Lazio region, Pecorino Romano is one of Italy’s oldest cheeses and was a staple in the diets of Roman soldiers. Today much of the production has moved over to Sardina, with several new regional variations being created, including Pecorino Sardo. Each regional cheese has its own slightly different flavour profile.

Used for: Pecorino Romano is most commonly used in traditional pasta dishes from Italy’s Lazio region, including Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe. It can also be used as an alternative for parmesan cheese in many other dishes.