While a group of travellers in Italy visiting the ruined city of Pompei, destructed by the molten lava of Mount Vesuvius was shown round the villa of a Roman aristocrat, a little lady could not help ask the travel guide why a gargauntian vat adorned the banquet room of the grandee. “That, Madam”, explained the able guide, “was meant for retching! After a night of wining and dining, the guests come out and then resume what they were doing”. So, Romans were quite adept in making wine and drinking it to their heart’s content from the earliest times.
History of Italian Wines
In the context of what is said above, Italy may be described as the home to some of the oldest wine regions in the world. The fact is, Greek settlers made wine in the country long before the Romans developed their own vineyards in the 2nd century BC. But once they started, it became prolific and much better organized as compared to what the Greeks originally did.
During the hay day of the Roman Empire, large-scale production of wine was encouraged. And the storage techniques were also developed such as barrel-making and bottling. Incidentally, Italian wine bottles are still somewhat roundish in look. However, several millenniums later, Italy still remains one of the world’s foremost wine producers, creditable for producing as much as 1/5th of the total world production.
Since grapes are grown in almost all parts of Italy, wine is naturally a very popular drink in the country. Nevertheles, each region has its own carefully tended and neatly pruned vines that are sometimes found along low supports, presenting scenic beauty and appeal.
Though even now, people living in villages often follow the crude method of treading the grapes with bare feet to squeeze out the juice, which they believe yields better result, most wine making in Italy is done in modern wineries. However, most Italian wines are more suited as accompaniment for food than as solo drinking bar-drink because of their dry, acidic, light-to-medium bodied and subdued aroma and flavor.
Italian wines may be subdivided into two principal categories – The Red and the White wine.
The Red variety includes Sangiovese that produces Chianti Classio, Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano and many others.
Nebbiolo is a difficult type of variety, and the country’s most noble family produces Barolo, Barbaresco, Inferno, Sassela and some more. Wines that develop a silky plum-like fruit, lightly acidic as well as medium tannin come from Montepulciano. Yet another Red variety is the famous Corvina varietal that produces dark cherry red Valpolicella and Amarone wines.
As for the White or Bianco variety, the Trebbiano seems to be quite popular and is grown all over Italy. Wines made from Trebbiano are usually pale and easy drinking while those made by Valentini are said to age 1%+ years. Another White variety known as Moscato gives a slightly sparkling (Frizzante) semi-sweet Moscato d’Asti while Pinot Grigio wines can grow full-bodied in good producers’ hand. Malvasia Bianca, which is another White variety can be found all over Italy and has many clones.