An Introduction to Italian Wine

The history of Italian wine goes back a long way. The Romans were first introduced to viniculture by the Greeks who settled in Italy and Tuscany in 800 B.C. The Greeks found the country to have the perfect climate for the cultivation of their art—with moderate to warm temperatures. Over time, the Romans learned to master viticulture and largely improve the winemaking processes. With more than 350 wine grape varieties taking their roots across 20 different regions, it is no wonder that Italy is the world’s largest producer of wine, representing about 1/3 of the global production.

Italian vineyards can loosely be classified into three distinct regions: the North, the Center, and the South. These different areas encompass a variety of climates, resulting in distinct aromas and flavors.

–    The mountainous aspect of Northern Italy gave birth to a number of microclimates that are favorable to the cultivation of grapes. The region of Piedmont is surrounded by the Alps and Monte Rosa, and its name comes from a Latin word meaning “at the foot of the mountains.” Two great pillars of the Italian winemaking industry are Barolo and Barbaresco, both of which are produced in Piedmont. These legends are  made of the Nebbiolo grape variety, which is recognized by its pale color with aromas of tar and roses. Other important landmarks in Northern Italy for wine enthusiasts include Veneto and Lombardy, a region known for its exceptional sparkling wines.

–    If you are traveling anywhere near Rome or Florence, it won’t be long before you come across some splendid vineyards. Central Italy if full of well-renowned domaines. Arguably the most renowned region, Tuscany played a major role in the history of Italian wine. Indeed, a few Tuscan winemakers started a revolution a few decades ago. They found that the Italian winemaking industry was increasingly focusing on quantity rather than quality. They firmly argued that Italy should produce the best possible wines, a perception frequently associated with France. By modernizing their methods and infrastructures, vintners unlocked a now potential for growth. Chianti wine is among the most popular, as well as Brunello di Montalcino, one of the nation’s best-known and most expensive wine.

–    The development of the wine industry in Southern Italy dates back to 2000 B.C., in Phoenician times. After the Greeks had arrived in Italy, they went as far as calling the southern part of the Italian peninsula “the land of wine.” Since then, the winemaking business surprisingly had a very slow growth in the region. Fortunately, in recent years, investors have developed a growing interest in the potential Southern Italy has to offer. Campania is at the epicenter of this renaissance, and a lot of new crus are yet to be discovered is this fast-growing region.

As we previously mentioned, traveling by train is the absolute best way to visit Italy. Exploring the wine heritage by train is an excellent choice, as you will get a chance to admire some breathtaking views of vineyards extending out of sight. If you want to make your wine tasting trip a memorable experience, we also offer numerous food and wine tours, which are a delightful way to discover what Italy has to offer!

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