More than 2000 varieties of grapes make up Italian wines. With such breadth, there is a classification from excellent quality down to value (your ubiquitous table wines), and red to white, from which to choose. Before heading out to buy wine from Italy, here are the basics:
Super-Tuscans are made mostly of Sangiovese grapes; Nebiolo grapes are found in Barolo and Barbaresco wines. For a stronger wine, try the Amarone wines, from Italy's Northeast reaches. The grapes are often partially dried out, giving a higher alcohol content, and provide a cherry or plum flavor.
A beloved favorite to cool down is Pinot Grigio. It is made from white grapes and satisfies the soul while satiating the taste buds. Interestingly enough, the most recognized varieties come from a region on the Alps/Mediterranean border, where Italy and Austria meet.
Look for Alto Adige wines, and you will be in for a real treat. An excellent toasting wine is Perseco--a dry, sparkling wine that gives Champagne a run for its money. Drier and lighter, it is surprisingly tasty and relatively inexpensive. And it pairs well with appetizers, such as heart of palm, olives, salami, and any antipasto you try.
If you prefer, and want the full table-wine experience, as the old families of Italy (in the United States) would have it, fill a jam glass with Chianti, and dip your crusty Italian bread or pizza crust in the wine, or drink it up while using your bread to catch every last savory sip of grandma's sauce/gravy.
Discovering Italian wines is much better when practiced than merely read about, so get out there and start sampling until you find new favorite Italian wines! Enjoy.