Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
A friend has offered to bring some wines back from Italy. Will they be different from Italian wines sold in the U.S., in terms of alcohol content or sweetness?
A bottle of wine from a trip abroad is always a thoughtful gift. In any foreign country you’ll find wines that aren’t exported to the United States. They might be small-production wines, or made in a style more popular with locals than with Americans, but there’s nothing inherently or legally different about wines made abroad for domestic consumption vs. those made for export.
I checked in with Wine Spectator senior editor Alison Napjus, who reviews wines from both France and Italy: “Wines have varying alcohol levels, sweetness, etc., so it's almost impossible to generalize that Italian wines only available in Italy might be different from those available here in the U.S.”
She also noted something that I have experienced as well: the “vacation factor”—that phenomenon wherein we romanticize local wines while traveling. “The bottle that seems so amazing while you're sitting in a beautiful, historic piazza somewhere may not always be quite so fantastic when it's just part of a regular day at home,” she reminds us. Travelers can attach special meaning and affection to a wine tasted abroad, but those sentiments aren't necessarily going to be shared by someone who didn't make the trip.