We at TOSSWARE are always on the lookout for amazing new cocktails. This month, however we’re going back to the basics and enjoying some classic Italian wines. As the country that produces the most wine in the world, the Italians are onto something. Wine has been produced in Italy since before the 2nd century!
Italy is a geographically diverse peninsula with a wide range of high and low altitude coastal vineyards that produce over 350 officially recognized grape varieties. This has resulted in thousands upon thousands of delicious regional wines. So kick up your feet and join us for a tour of Italy in search of the very best wines.
Our first stop is in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region on the northeast coastline. The very best vineyards in this alpine region lie in the foothills facing the Adriatic Sea. Cool breezes and direct sunlight make for the perfect growing conditions. White wines are the specialty of this area, with full-bodied Pinot Grigios and distinctive Sauvignon Blancs abounding. The Friuli method, a white winemaking technique that prevents oxidation, comes from this region and has produced some of the most complex flavor profiles in white wine. Look out for a 10-14% alcohol content and steel tank aged Ramato for a classic Friuli wine.
Step onto the Italiarail as we head across the country to the western region of Tuscany. Perhaps the most famous wine region, Tuscany is the home of the Sangiovese grape. The hilly landscape of Tuscany is ideal for the high altitude vineyards that give the Sangiovese grape their perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. This dark red grape is used to make the classic Chianti, a lighter bodied red reminiscent of cherries. In the past 15 years a new blend has blossomed out of this region, the Super Tuscan. This red blend is made by mixing both Sangiovese and noble (Cabernet or Merlot) grapes. Sip a dark, Sangiovese wine over a cheese and cured meat platter in order to balance the high tannins.
Take a short drive east into the Marche region for a light and fruity afternoon white. Verdicchio is the most popular grape coming out of this area. The name comes from the root verde or green, describing for the green and yellow hues identifying Verdicchio wines. This high acidity wine is made of grapes that thrive on the coastal landscape and thus pairs perfectly with Marche’s marinated raw fish specialty, crudo. After enjoying your fill of seafood, we’ll hop on over to one of Italy’s amazing islands.
Sardinia is Mediterranean island offering clear blue waters, expansive coastlines, and some impressive red wines. The Sardinian specialty is Cannonau wines. This dark grape is one of the oldest grapes in the world. The bright and easy-drinking Cannonau wines coming out of Sardinia are perfect for a breezy lunchtime pairing. A couple glasses of Cannonau, a cool coastal breeze, and a lunchtime picnic of grilled vegetables and pancetta sound pretty close to perfection.
Back on the mainland, we find ourselves in the southernmost region of Calabria. This is where the Greco grapes thrive and become deep, almost amber colored white wines. As a high alcohol, sweet wine Greco is best enjoyed as a dessert wine. Sip slowly and embrace the herbal notes in Greco, knowing the grapes have been grown in this region for over 3,000 years!
The final stop on our Italian wine tour is the island of Sicily. The warm climate here has made it a hotspot for amazing street food and rich red wines! The Nero d’Avola is the specialty of Sicily. This indigenous Italian grape thrives in the southernmost region of this island. A Nero d’Avola wine makes for a dry and full-bodied drinking experience. Best paired with red meats and heavy foods, the moderate acidity will balance the palate during an evening meal at the cobblestone Sicilian street markets.
Whether you’re traveling to Italy or traveling via your glass, try out a few of Italy’s best wines and let us know how it goes! Tag @TOSSWARE in a photo of your favorite Italian wine.