Locals sitting along the canal in Venice, Italy having enjoying a glass of vino and aperitivi after work. Aperitivo is roughly translated to appetizer in English, but is a word synonymous to happy hour in the U.S.. In Italy, when you're invited to have an aperitivo, you are going to happy hour. There, you gather with family and friends for a light meal or hearty snacks, before the big dinner. Photo credit: Suzaane Emily O'Connor

Saluti! Let your wine palette wander the regions of Italy for the best local vino

Italy’s regions are divided by political borders, but arguably more so wine, sparkling waters and food. Satisfy your soul with one of their vines. So, aerate the vibe and create the finest atmosphere with legendary notes from some of the most celebrated regional wines.

As my right-hand clasps the broad bowled Cabernet, the waiter appears in sarcastic annoyance, “please, please… this is not how we do it in Venice!” While some call this petty, others refer to it as mastery.

The 200-year-old vineyards look every bit of their age as they lie effortlessly across the Greve in Chianti, Italy, while the eminence of the fresh grapes crosses you over to kooky dimensions. Behind the foliage are vines of vast historical feasting, the bedrock to today’s commonly used literature and consumption mannerisms. 

A great reference would be the simple “wining and dining,” a rhythmic work of poetry for the romantics while mirroring a more profound meaning than imagined. 

One may speculate–just how good is Italian wine? Well, it is soul. If it was for me, it has to have one. A drink so majestic, its consumption cuts across all things deemed worthy of merry like festivities and love. For a boss, what would a plate of pasta carbonara be without a glass of the chianti classico? 

From the groundwork of it all, little is known about quality in regards to grape type and origin. 

“There are wines done by wood and others done only by steel,” says Jacomo Balotelli, who owns the Il Contalitro Vini in Palermo. A process based on the oxidation of the drink. “The taste varies regarding different fundamental aspects ranging from farming methods to the regions and grapes utilized,” he says. Likewise, a wide batch of brands originate from regions known for being one of the sources of grape cultivation. 

Below is a delicious journey of the four most exquisite Italian offerings of all time. 

Chianti Classico is a wine that defines much of the vino from the Tuscano region in Italy. Photo credit: Joey Nicotra on Unsplash

CHIANTI CLASSICO

An Italian menu can never omit the opulent chianti, a true mark of velvety elegance recognizable by the famous black rooster on its label. A drink so classic, it can only be manufactured in one place all over the world, Tuscany, a region located in the northernmost part of central Italy. A tip for nomads–this is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent places in the world, with Florence as its capital. 

The extensive area is a splendid territory. Vineyards rise from 200 meters to 600 meters above sea level, which enables greater airflow that keeps disease on the grapes at bay. During autumn, the vines acquire a palette of warm colors, ranging from yellow to deep red and coral to orange.

Aged in wood, chianti classico sweeps your nose with its unique cherry and berry scent. This is not to rule out its delicate essences of pepper and cinnamon, also tannins, giving a good dose of acidity. The Sangiovese grapes play the main character. Despite this, the wine embodies a diversification from the merlot or canaiolo grape for a more fruity taste and aroma.

For a more satisfying pairing with food, it graciously accompanies mature cheeses and delicious cold cuts and red meat. For consumption, a tulip-shaped glass is great to enjoy a taste of Tuscany. The small opening retains and concentrates the aromas.

PROSECCO

Regardless of what you heard, “If Prosecco is sold on tap then it is no longer prosecco; it needs to be served directly from the bottle,” says Luca Giavi, the director of the Prosecco DOC Consortium.

The hilly Campania of the Venice region introduces you to the globally appreciated spumante. A dry white vino—sparkling or still—from a slightly aromatic grape variety called Glera. This sumptuous Prosecco perfectly complements appetizers or first courses. Often, it is often with champagne, which is manufactured by grapes from the Champagne region in France.  

Drinking Prosecco in a flute glass is a widespread practice. Why? Because its frame limits the release of bubbles, allowing you to relish the essence of the sparkle longer and much deeper.

NERO D’AVOLA

As a menu must-have, any traveler who has been in Sicily ought to be acquainted with Nero d’Avola–the smooth and still ruby ​​red wine. With origins in Avola, a town in the province of Syracuse, the aforementioned is the emblem of the region. Nero d’Avola is defined by splendid Mediterranean scrub aromas with cranberry and wild berry fragrance.

The vine is sensitive to both extreme humidity and drought, though it loves the heat. For this, the grapes are harvested and then partially dried before manufacturing. 

Although perfect solo, Nero d’Avola is a great match with rich meaty meals. However, vegetarians are not consigned to oblivion. Black lentils serve an awesome combination, too.

Great for drinking, pouring Bordeaux into a large glass makes ample room to swirl the sanguine elixir. This simple, but effective practice, reduces any harshness from tannins, while simultaneously adding to the drink’s oxygenation. Hence, evolved notes.

A glass of wine during a meal is normal in Italy. Depending on the grape and flavor, if paired properly, it accentuates the meal.

BAROLO DI CONTERNO

Two things we all pine for, family legacy and the €1000 price tag per bottle. As one of the most upscale vinos, Roberto Conterno who is a third generation Barolist, talks about the need for retailers to charge a thousand euros or more when they sell a bottle for €270.

“I didn’t know, I didn’t expect it and I’m sorry. It is a speculation that we cannot fight. We cannot impose official prices on resellers. The only consolation is that speculators put their faces on these prices,” he says. Yet and still, the wine must be poured.

As a Piedmont origin, the deep maroon beverage produced with Nebbiolo grapes is now recognized all over the world for its long-lived, earthy kick. Barolo is a green Piedmontese village where it is produced, also home to a famous wine museum. 

Apart from its aromatic spiciness, small wooden fermentation tanks are in place to further improve quality. Plus, Barolo enhances the flavors of aged cheeses and is pleasantly combined with dry pastries. Served in large glasses, it is considered an excellent meditation tool.

. . . .

Until the last drop leaves its bottle, the secret to the Italian vino is indescribable. Besides a glass or two on a night out, health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, and ahem, helping speed up your heart rate for lovers, make it a commendable nightcap.  

In terms of storage, there are rules to go by. For instance, remembering to re-cork the bottle properly to avoid air entry. Another tip, store the bottle standing up, rather than laying it on its side because that position exposes the surface area to too much air. We would not want the wine to oxygenate, as it will certainly ruin it’s quality. Added to this nightmare, pigmentation decreases, including the loss of aromas and flavors.

Alas, as much as white wine might have room in your fridge, the red should never. Instead, storing it in a dark, cool place is a better option.

Nyawira Mithayo is a Journalism graduate with an interest in community activism.

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