A look at the diversity of Italian grapes and how to enjoy them with Italian food.
Where is it?
What are the main grapes grown?
With the notable exceptions of Pinot Grigio and Montelpulciano, Italy is perhaps better known for wine regions/cities/names than for grape varieties-Chianti (Sangiovese grape) Barolo (Nebbiolo grape), Amarone (Corvina grape), and so on. Many French varietals are also grown here, including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
What is distinctive about it?
Italy is the world’s most prolific wine-producing country, and every province produces wine. Climatic variation is significant – from the Alps in the north to the beaches of Sardinia and Amalfi.
How do you spot a good wine?
Italy has in place a classification similar to France – look for DOC or DOCG on the label – with the latter designating the better wines. However, Italian winemakers often break the rules, growing grapes they’re not officially allowed to.Enter a new classification of IGP (also indicated on the label) within which some great value – and excitement – is to be found. Look out in particular for IGP wines from Sicily.
What are its classic dishes?
The holy triumvirate is bread-olive oil-wine. From the buttery risotto in the north, the truffles and wild boar of Piedmont, the tomato-based sauces of Tuscany to pizza and pasta in Naples to Sicily’s caponata… Italian regional dishes are born to go with regional wine.
Imagine yourself there...
Stream The Three Tenors over a dinner of mushroom ravioli with a rocket and shaved Parmesan salad… and a bottle of Chianti Classico.