Like Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli on their Italy Unpacked BBC series, we are going to take you on a whistle-stop tour of this country, albeit with less art, more wine and not as many sexy shots of Giorgio. Long story short, Italy has it all. New to wine? Pinot Grigio and Prosecco will ease you in with the country’s characteristic friendly warmth. Looking to explore something a little more complex? The likes of Gavi and Sicilian Nero d’Avola will take you gently by the hand, as you foray a little further.
Want to go for the top-end, old-school, age-worthy big boys? Pick up a Barolo or a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and gawp in wonderment like a tourist in the Sistine Chapel. There are so many weird and wonderful grape varieties and regions, that there is always something new to discover.
But, just because they have it all, the Italians are no strangers to innovation. They are constantly promoting lesser-known grapes, like Nero Mascalese grown on Mount Etna in Sicily, (one delicious example of which is the Tenuta delle Terre Nerrelo Mascalese - coming soon) and are also having fun with the ‘noble’ grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay et al.)
The final word on Italian wine? It’s incredibly food-friendly (“claro!” shout all the Italians). Why does it work so well with food? Because it’s nearly always acidic. Doesn’t sound great, we’ll admit, but balanced acidity is a highly desirable thing, especially when pairing with food, as it literally makes your mouth water and cuts through oils, which most dishes contain. Without it, wine just can’t stand up to food which, we all know, would be una tragedia terribile.