Italy is one of the foremost wine producing countries in the world. Long warm summers and mild winters produce grapes that in turn create some classic wines that are established favourites in Britain. The vibrancy and colour of the wines seem to reflect the character of a nation whose very essence is reflected in the centuries old wine making tradition. Drinking wine in Italy is very much a social experience intertwined with family meals and seen as the essential accompaniment to great food. The nuances of the climate from region to region help develop the character and the quality of wine, and the result is a fantastic variety of complex and exciting wines that maintain Italy’s reputation as a premier producer. We are going to take a look at some of our favourites and the regions from which they originate.
5. Marsala – Sicily
In years gone by the fortified wine Marsala would have assumed a higher status amongst Italy’s most prominent wines. It is a measure of the growing strength of the industry that today the popularity of Marsala has been eclipsed by its relatively younger rivals. A cousin of sherry and Madeira, Marsala is a traditional drink enjoyed as an aperitif but also used as a key ingredient in cooking. With a history closely associated to the seafaring culture of southern Italy, Marsala is produced in the Sicilian city which bears its name. The importance of the sea cannot be overstated in this the largest island in the Mediterranean which has over the millennia shaped life in Sicily from its trade to its cuisine. Today the warm Sicilian sun attracts visitors to enjoy some of the best beaches in Italy which sit beside ancient ruins on an island which has some of the most the most active volcanoes in Europe. There is a strong influence on Sicily from neighbouring Mediterranean nations such as Greece adding to the attraction and character of one of the most fascinating holiday destinations in Italy.
4. Barolo – Piedmont
Red wine and Italian food is simply a match made in heaven. Barolo may not be as famous as its Tuscan cousin Chianti but to aficionados this is one of the world’s great wines, with deep complex flavours produced from the Nebbiolo grape. The designated Barolo ‘region’ is located in Piedmont in Italy’s North West. The rolling green hillsides and fertile soils around Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d’Alba produce full bodied wines that rival some of the best Bordeaux and traditionally go well with red meats and cheese. Bordering France, Piedmont is home to some of richest agricultural regions in Italy. As well as wine this part of Italy produces cereals, maize and rice alongside major industrial centres such as Turin. By contrast ‘s lowlands are in close proximity to the Southern Alps, dramatic snow top mountains play host to great skiing and snowboarding in the winter whilst beautiful lakes are magnate for holidaymakers in the summer and autumn months.
3. Prosecco – Veneto
The exuberant warmth of Italy seems to underpin a basic desire to celebrate life with family and friends and as we all know, the best celebrations are often accompanied by a glass or two of delicious fizz. Prosecco has enjoyed a surge in popularity amongst discerning fans of sparkling wine over the past forty years. Characterised by its light and fresh aroma, Prosecco is perceived as a cheaper but still high quality substitute for champagne. Produced in the northern region of Veneto Prosecco is primarily known as a sparkling white wine though rose varieties are equally delicious. Perhaps accompanied by ripe strawberries and Prosecco suddenly assumes the aura of a romantic aperitif befitting a region that has come to symbolise the heart of romance in Italy. In a country renowned for its passion, the canal city of Venice has been the lavish backdrop for blossoming romances across the centuries. The enduring appeal of the Grand Canal, St Mark’s Basilica and Piazza San Marco is testament to a city regarded as one of the most beautiful the world. With such exquisite surroundings it is not surprising that Venice enjoys a rich cultural heritage that continues to engage modern tourist’s intent on enjoying a pilgrimage to one of the finest artistic centres in Europe.
2. Pinot Grigio – Friuli-Venezia Giulia
The warm Mediterranean hillsides are famed for the production of citrus fruits and Pinot Grigio exudes crisp fruity notes in a delicious white wine that flourishes in the northern reaches of Italy. What better way to invigorate the senses than to recline into the evening warmth sitting by the pool in your terracotta patio with a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio? The refreshing quality of Pinot Grigio is characterised by the crispness of the wine which is developed by harvesting the grape early in the most northernmost vineyards in Italy. Friuli-Venezia Giulia is renowned for quality white wines of which Pinto Grigio is amongst the most highly regarded. The area is perhaps best known for the Adriatic seaport Trieste. A cultural melting pot at the crossroads between Eastern and Western Europe, Trieste is a fascinating city reflecting the heritage of the region and its sometimes turbulent past. Inheriting a stunning architectural legacy, the piazzas, castles and Roman ruins of Triaste are amongst the finest in Italy.
1. Chianti – Tuscany
The colour red is synonymous with Italy and has pride of place in the country’s tricolour and for good reason. Whether it is the flash of a scarlet Ferrari, the intense red of a marina sauce or indeed within deliciously voluptuous Chianti, the colour is emblematic for a country that produces some of the world’s most famous red wines. Chianti has assumed iconic status for its intensely rich complex character that has become the pride of Tuscany. A fantastic accompaniment to the rustic tomato based cuisine treasured in this part of Italy, Chianti has a richness that reflects the appreciation of quality produce. A sentiment that is carried over into the physical aesthetic, as Chianti is produced in the enchanting Tuscan countryside. Delightful rural villas survey a landscape of vibrant rolling green hills flanked by the regions famous vineyards. This part of Italy is characterised by its opulent history which is epitomised by an inspiring architectural heritage preserved within the exquisite Tuscan cities of Florence, Pisa and the Siena. The high quality of the beautiful local wines is indicative of one of the most stunning and unforgettable regions in Italy.
Take a look at our featured holiday accommodation in Italy.