Italy Wine Travel Guide
When it comes to learning about Italian wine, many of us feel a bit overwhelmed. With a winemaking tradition that is broader and deeper than anywhere in the world, it is no wonder. There are more than 500 documented wine varietals grown in Italy and wine is made in every region of the country. It is the world’s leader in the consumption of wine and goes back and forth with France as the world’s leading producer of wine. The wonderful thing about a wine vacation to Italy is that no matter where your travels take you there will be excellent wine and food to enjoy, even if you can’t recognize or recall everything you’ve sipped or supped.
In terms of geography, Italy is roughly the size of the state of Arizona and only about 1/3 of all land in Italy is suitable for farming. Much of Italy is mountainous or hilly. The two large islands of Sicily and Sardinia are part of Italy, but so are nearly seventy other small islands. The modern nation of Italy arose from a confederation of smaller states, each with a capital city. It is these regional differences in landscapes, climate and culture that have given today’s Italy such a broad range of wines and styles.
For the sake of simplicity, divide your Italian wine journey into north and south. In general, the warmer growing conditions in the south have tended to produce wines that are riper, fruitier and more rustic than in the north. Italy’s most legendary wines all come from the northern half of the country. These would include the two most famous wine regions, Piedmont and Tuscany.
Visitors arriving Italy will find an extensive network of airports, public transportation and rental options. Many of Italy’s 5,000 wineries are located in rural areas so expect to hit the road and enjoy the scenery. Nearly every city, town and village contains historical wonders. Do a bit of preparation first though, as many wineries have tours by appointment only and limited availability at certain times of the year.
Whether it’s a pizza in Naples, wild boar in Tuscany or shellfish plucked straight from the Mediterranean to your table, there is an Italian wine to match every sublime Italian foodstuff. When in doubt, order the wine produced in the region you’re in and Italy will work its magic. A wine vacation to Italy will leave you longing for more.