ENGLAND were beaten yet again on penalties but, as chance would have it, I've been enjoying a few other Italian performances lately.

Italian reds are some of the best food wines on the market, created as they were to compliment the dishes of the region and they range from light fruity summer styles to big, highly alcoholic broody wines.

This is the point in most columns where the author writes, ‘We’ve all heard of chianti, barolo and amarone but I want to introduce you to some of the regional country wines’. That aint me, however, as I love the classics.

Chianti can be blended from a range of grapes but the main one these days is sangiovese and you should expect autumn fruits, herbs, vanilla and even sweet notes of balsamic.

Barolo is one of the greatest wines in the world and is produced from the nebbiolo variety. I find them best after 10 years but, at a push, over six will do. Age tempers some of the big volatile flavours so expect deep rich fruit, tannins, spice and whopping alcohol levels in younger ones.

Amarone is one of my favourite Christmas reds but I really should drink them more often. They are, for want of a better description, massive reds with bucket loads of Christmas cake fruit, enough alcohol to sanitise with and a roundness to the overall taste that can often be mistaken for fortified wines.

Anyway, if you’re tempted to celebrate recent events with pasta, make sure you go the whole hog and pair it with a proper Italian red.

Chianti Classico Riserva Gherardino Vignamaggio

This is why we were given taste buds, folks. Rich morello cherries, sweet spice and even hints of leather, presumably from the addition of Merlot to the blend. Delicious.

Corney & Barrow £20.50

Marcarini Barolo del Comune di La Morra 2016

I've tasted this a few times and it never lets me down, despite the ‘bargain’ price. It’s very aromatic which is unusual for such a massive wine. The fruit and spices on the palate are beautifully balanced with generous tannins and there are delicious hints of smoke on the finish.

Majestic £28.99