5 places to visit in Italy for wine lovers
‘Wine is bottled poetry’, said the writer Robert Louis Stevenson. This could almost be the motto of the wine industry in Italy, a country that reveres food and wine above almost everything else. For wine lovers, a trip to Italy is always a delight. We’ve picked out five places we think are particularly special.
San Gimignano, Tuscany
The quality and standing of San Gimignano wine doesn’t need any introduction for Italian wine enthusiasts. This quiet hill town in Tuscany produces millions of bottles each year, which are sold all over the world. Vernaccia di San Gimignano obtained the first DOC in Italy in 1966 before gaining DOCG status in 1993 – Italy’s highest accolade for wine.
The town itself has lots of character and offers unrivalled views of the surrounding vineyards, making it a lovely daytrip from nearby Florence or Siena. The wine has a delicate bouquet and a mineral nose, with fruity and flowery notes. During the Renaissance Michelangelo praised the wine of San Gimignano, saying upon tasting it that, ‘it kisses, leaks, bites, pricks and stings’.
Chianti is perhaps the best-known area in Tuscany for wine production, and one of the stars is the beautiful town of Montepulciano. This heavenly medieval town is bristling with character, epitomised by the ancient buildings in the central Piazza Grande.
As far as wine is concerned, Chianti is lauded for its vast production capabilities and exceptional wineries. Wine tasting in Chianti is a thrilling experience with enough vintages to keep you going for weeks! Montepulciano wine is a medium bodied red with hints of sour cherry, red plum and oregano. Food pairings to consider include beef bolognese and roasted pork shoulder, though the local people of Montepulciano will have the best recommendations when you dine out.
Tuscan wine tours are so popular that other Italian regions sometimes don’t get a look in. But tucked away in the northwest corner of Italy is Piedmont, where lush vineyards meet dazzling mountain views. The wines made here utilise the legendary Nebbiolo grape, and are among the most sought after in the great restaurants of the world.
The name Barolo is synonymous in the wine world with big price tags. It is no secret in Piedmont that you can enjoy this incredible ‘king of wines’ at an affordable price in the region. Surrounded by vineyards, the town of Barolo itself is devoted to food and wine. For the wine lover, a tour of the Barolo Wine Museum will be as interesting as the great galleries of Florence to lovers of the arts.
Of all the Umbrian wines, Orvieto is undoubtedly the most famous. White Orvieto DOC wine comes in a variety of sweet and dry incarnations, using a combination of Prociano and Grechetto grapes. The ancient city of Orvieto is at the heart of the best vineyards in the region and has been populated since Etruscan times. Orvieto wine has often been admired by popes and princes – how will you like it when you get there?
There are so many inspiring places to visit in Italy, each with a unique and vivid character – none more so than Sicily. Southern Sicily is home to one of the best wine producing regions in Italy – Vittoria. Red lovers can expect bright, cherry coloured wines made from Nero d’Avola and Frappato grapes. Sicilian viticulture has a long history that can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and even Dionysus, the God of Wine. During your time in Vittoria, make sure you tour the ruins of the Ancient Greek colony of Camarina.
From Tuscany to Sicily, take an escorted holiday in Italy and you will have some remarkable wines to try. Don’t worry if you’re not an expert – just relax and enjoy your surroundings as you learn from the experts and sample a few glasses of wine.
Nicola considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a number of places around the world and these experiences usually involve searching for as many kinds of wildlife as possible. Recent highlights include penguins in Antarctica, bears and whales in Canada and Alaska and sea otters in California - but there are always more animals to search for.
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