While riding our rollercoaster economy has made many wine aficionados queasy enough to turn to inexpensive juice from North and South America; the lone Old World country that seems to be keeping its customer base on track is Italy.

Much of Italy’s success comes from its ability to be just about everything to everybody. It’s a long country with twenty different regions and three distinctive climate zones, which allows it to produce a wide variety of wines that are — for the most part — very consistent and extremely approachable right out of the bottle.

Italian grapes and geography have become synonymous with wine culture. I mean, even a diehard rum drinker has heard of Tuscany’s Chianti region. That familiarity has made rich, plummy wines like Frescobaldi’s 2005 Nipozzano Chianti Rúfina Riserva ($21.75 - $27.95) modern classics.

Though Pinot Grigio is now grown just about everywhere, Santa Margherita’s 2007 Pinot Grigio ($16.95 - $21.25) was the first to bring the grape to the masses; making its clean, crisp personality a benchmark for Italian whites and opening the door for hundreds of imitators.

Try either with some homemade pasta or a pie from your favourite pizza joint.

• Prices reflect the range across the country. Some products may not be available in all provinces.

– Peter Rockwell is the everyman’s wine writer, working in the liquor industry for more than 25 years and travelling the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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