Where Wine Reigns, Talk Does Too
There’s an old saying in Italy: friends and wine improve with age. Talking to an old friend is easy, and you’d like to be able to talk about wine with the same ease while you’re on your trip. Let’s set you up with some of the basics, so that you’ll be able to chat about wine as easily as drinking it.
Before you start at the un’enoteca (a wine bar) you should know that Italy is the largest wine producer in the world. The top three wine producing regions are Piedmont, Alto Adige, and perhaps most famously — Tuscany.
Italy has more than 350 official grape varieties, but Tuscany is famous for just one kind of grape — Sangiovese. Sangiovese is a thin-skinned grape commonly grown in Tuscany’s Chianti region. It’s known for being a fruity and earthy grape that pairs well with a wide variety of Italian foods — from spaghetti bolognese, to pizza margherita, to a simple grilled chicken.
One the Tuscany’s most touted wines is the Brunello di Montalcino, a wine made for the local variety of the Sangiovese grape called Brunello, most famously grown in the Montalcino region. You may also come across the term “Super Tuscans”, which refer to wines that don’t adhere to the region’s strict laws on the blending of different grape varieties in a single bottle. Super Tuscans can range from mid-range quality to some of the most well regarded wines out there.
Choosing a Wine
Drinking wine in Italy is very common, so don’t worry — not everyone is an expert and no one expects you to be one. However, knowing your own wine preferences will help order wines that are right for you.
Most establishments will have a house wine. In Italy, the house wine can be a great option — it’s often handpicked from nearby regional wines and something the locals would drink.
Ordering Like an Italian
The most important word will, of course, be “vino” which is Italian for wine. To make ordering simple and to your taste, simply add an adjective! This will give the person you’re ordering from a bit of guidance in terms of which wine you’d prefer. Depending on the evening out you’re having you might want to add economico (cheap) or costoso (expensive) to your request. You can always just ask the prezzo (price) as well.