Italy is among the world's oldest wine producing nations. It can also claim what is unquestionably the most diverse array of wine styles anywhere. With almost 1,000 recognized grape varietals and hundreds of various "clones" thereof, one could conceivably sample a different Italian wine each day for a year and barely scratch the surface. Now that the warm weather is here, I usually consume more white wines with lighter summer fare. For this article, I've decided to skip the "usual suspects" from the better known regions like Piedmont, the Veneto, and Tuscany and varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio to focus instead on white wines from parts of Italy that in my opinion deserve greater recognition. These wines are, for me at least, among the best "Summer Whites".

Among white wines, I have a soft spot for those from Alto Adige, or Sud-Tyrol in German. This region, once part of Austria until the end of World War I, is home to white wines that are vibrant, crisp and exhibit wonderfully dry mineral-like flavors with lots of acidity and are very food-friendly. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Muller-Thurgau, Gruner Veltliner, Traminer and Gewurztraminer do exceptionally well here as do a couple of varieties found nowhere else, namely Kerner and Moscato Giallo.

Just to the east, bordering Slovenia, Friuli is also a region that is particularly noted for its white wines. Often light and refreshing, they can at times also be very well-structured and complex, rivaling the classic whites from Burgundy and Alsace. Trebiano, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc are tasty wines and are widely planted throughout the region, but the truly intriguing wines are those produced from grape varieties like Malvasia Bianca, Ribolla, Picolit and Vitovska.

In the south, Campania is another region that produces excellent whites. Fiano, Falanghina and Greco di Tufo are terrific alternatives to run-of-the-mill Pinot Grigio at the same prices. In Sicily, Grillo, Inzolia and Catarratto are also worth checking out. The island of Sardinia is justly famous for its white wines as well. Crisp and zesty, Vermentino is the most widely planted variety, but it's an ancient Phoenician grape called Nuragus that the locals most highly regard.

Other interesting Italian white wines to look for include Pigato from Liguria, Petite Arvine from the Val d'Aoste, and Verdicchio from Le Marche.

Ciao!