“Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep well, and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved”

Medieval German Saying

If you’re anything like me, these weird alcohol-free January fads are to be avoided like the plague so let's raise a glass to a guilt-free month and kick it off with a look at something clean and refreshing to wash the season of excess away.

Yeah, you probably guessed it, my cleansing wine of choice is always going to be an Italian white. A couple of decades ago, I wouldn’t even have given most Italian whites space in my glass as so many of them were thin, bland and somehow all too similar but boy have things changed.

The soaves have that classic hint of zingy apple, the pinot grigios are crisp fruity and refreshing and they are producing some of the toastiest chardonnays normal wallets can buy.

There's been a really determined effort in recent years to raise quality levels across the board and while there's still plenty of dross for tourists to ‘enjoy’ in the many sunny piazzas, it’s far easier now to find real quality.

In fact, truth be told, Italy is fast becoming my country of choice for excellent fruity whites from the north to the south, with particular credit of late to Sicily.

The latter is probably still best known for its sweeter styles but there's been a steady trend towards tropical fruity, refreshing dry wines of late and they are cracking partners for antipasto or chilled to the bone to partner a barbie in the summer.

As with Germany however, Italian wines have often suffered on UK shelves because shoppers often find the grapes and regions confusing but in truth, that’s down to us, not them.

My suggestion is to start with some of the widely recognised names or your holiday favourites but remember to trade up in price because while you may have had a decent pinot grigio on holiday for under a fiver, you need to be aiming three of four quid higher in the UK due to taxes and retailers' margins.

Fruity, refreshing wines aside, however, Italy is producing some extraordinary buttery chardonnays as well as some really complex taste bud-popping wines such as Christian Tombacco’s Origine Bianco, which takes four years to produce and is aged in chestnut casks.

In short, happy New Year and viva Italia.

Ca’del Magro, Custoza Superiore

A classic dry white with grilled nuts on the nose and peachy fruits on the palate. The finish has mineral notes. This is a really classy wine that pairs well with pork, rich fish dishes and cheese.

Berry Bros & Rudd £15.50

Pavia Pinot Grigio

An aromatic wine with crisp refreshing fruits and hints of apple blossom. Perfect with fish or roast chicken.

Marks & Spencer £10