It’s official; Italy has been named the best country in the world for wine in a recent survey by lastminute.com, based on number of vineyards open to the public, wine tasting experiences and awards won. But wait! We see you’ve already opened up a new tab, and are searching skyscanner for cheap flights to Rome, wondering how you can make an impromptu boozy weekend work. We’re right there with you, but before you book anything concrete, you should consider these; our 5 IDEAL places to drink wine in Italy.
The region of Veneto, in Italy’s North East, is perhaps most famous for its beloved capital Venice. But as much as we love the canals, architecture and art of the La Serenissima, it’s the wine we’re here for, so it’s off to Pedemonte we head. Here the Tommasi Viticoltori winery shows off some of the finest produce of this prolific, high profile wine region, including the delicious cloudy Prosecco which Veneto is so rightly proud of. This winery boasts the world’s biggest oak barrel; reason enough for wine buffs to visit, we think.
Although it might seem like a bit of a cliché to sup wine on the rollings hills of Tuscany, it’s cliched for a reason, right? Indeed, while in the region, it’d be churlish not to drink. The sun-drenched hills of the Tuscan countryside produce some amazing vintages – the Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a white that’s well worth a try, and a visit really wouldn’t be complete without a glass or two of the rightly-famous Tuscan Chianti.
But few other wines have influenced the contemporary definition of pure, unadulterated quality wine as Sassicaia, the most famous of the Italian Bordeaux cuts. Originally conceived as a thoroughbred wine to be produced in Livorno – so similar in terroir to Bordeaux – this wine has gone from strength to strength since its 1968 inception (the date the project went public) and is now considered among the best in the world. Where better to sample it than at the source?
POSITANO, THE AMALFI COAST
When you look at a brochure or travel blog of the Amalfi Coast, you’ll more than likely see Positano pictured at night. The twinkling lights of the village set into an enclave within a hill face, with a sea of yachts and fishing boats as backdrop, is one of the most photographed travel images around. The sunset here, the precursor to this much pictured scene, is perhaps best enjoyed with a grappa or the revered local Aglianico grape variety (found in the quaffable Taurasi wine) from the Michelin-starred Zass’ restaurant terrace.
The volcanic terroir of Sicily lends itself to some incredibly complex, delicious wines. The slopes of the island’s Etna bring the red grape nerello mascalese and with it some excellent, though not cheap, drops. Our favourite is perhaps the Etna Rosso Carusu blend. Close to the city of Messina, in Northeastern Sicily, the famous Malvasia wine is produced; a gently fortified dessert wine with full bodied flavour and an essential companion to Sicily’s hugely popular treat, cannoli. If your sweet wine tooth still isn’t satisfied, then the island’s Zibibbo (akin to Muscat) is equally wonderful.
A region so famous for its rich, hearty food (bolognese, lasagna, prosciutto…bliss) needs a deep drinking culture to match it. Fortunately, the wine here more than matches the food with its character and presence. Modena is where you’ll find some of the finest places to have a sup; if you can afford it, one of the world’s greatest restaurants, Osteria Francancesa, resides here, with one of the world’s best wine lists to boot.
If your budget doesn’t stretch that far (or snagging an exclusive table is too difficult) then you can still enjoy the fruits of the region in town, with sparkling wines abundant and delicious. The local sparkling red of Lambrusco di Modena is one to look out for. Or if white’s more your thing, anything from the Trebbiano grape is also excellent.