Picture yourself sitting in a courtyard in Tuscany. The sun is setting and warming your face, the smell of romance and history is in the air and you’re sipping a glass of wine, wondering to yourself, “Is this heaven?” It may not be heaven, but it’s pretty close to it for many wine-lovers around the world. Italian wines are not only tasty to drink, but they enhance many types of food and also provide a feeling of Italian culture and romance. Experiencing Italian wine is like going back to the old world way of doing things; taking a long lunch break, enjoying a rustic, family-style meal at a harvest table, or taking a sunset stroll through a small Italian village. This is what North Americans are yearning for when they purchase an Italian bottle of wine. They imagine the wine will transport them to this scene, and perhaps it does just that, if only for a moment.
Take that rustic dinner for example – what would be better to complement a hearty tomato sauce than an easy-drinking Chianti, made from Sangiovese grapes? The tannic, earthy quality to this wine would complement the acidity of the tomato nicely without overpowering the dish. Perhaps during the traditional fish course, you break out a nice bottle of Verdicchio, a white wine that is great with seafood. A grape grown on the East Coast of Italy, Verdicchio is known to be crisp and dry, with a lot of acidity.
As the dinner wraps up and the aged cheeses are brought out, it’s time for Amarone; a sweet, high alcohol wine that is known as a “powerhouse” of wines. Amarone grapes are semi-dried on straw mats which results in a sweeter grape, and therefore a sweeter wine.
Given that there are hundreds of grapes, and over one thousand types of wines made in Italy, that alone should be enough to support the popularity of Italian wine. However, the wines of Italy also go well with many different types of food, and most of all, Italian wines not only impart flavour to your meal, but a sense of fun, romance and a culture steeped in history. Bon Appetito!