When you go to Italy, wine is essential. The Italians, after all, came up with the phrase “wine is life.” In rare instances, white is acceptable, but for the most part, Italian wine is red wine. Greg and I knew that and, as Italian wine lovers, were very much looking forward to trying as many as we could while we were there.
I know many of you will be saying what I used to say: “I can’t drink red wine. It gives me horrible headaches.” All I can offer you is that for me, red wine made and bottled OUTSIDE the US is different. If this is you as well, buy a bottle of FOREIGN wine and give it a try.
OK … with that in mind, one of the first things we did when we got to our first stop was grab lunch … a pizza from the window of a street-side cafe and a glass of “house red.”
I was in Heaven! That night, in the garden of our hotel, we grabbed a take-away pizza and polished off two bottles from the hotel bar.
Everyday was another adventure in wine. Through the course of each day, we easily shared two bottles. We spread it out over the entire day and tried hard to never drink the same wine twice. I took a pic of the front and back of every bottle we consumed … as a fun visual record of the wine we enjoyed.
We learned that while Italians will always lean towards red, in the extreme heat of a summer day, they have a few whites chilled to enjoy. In Tuscany, we sampled a “vernaccia” at a winery. Of the eleven wines we tasted, it was the only white … but it was good enough to add a couple bottles to our order to have shipped home. At a wine festival in San Marino, the whites were featured in the heat of the day.
Let me share a few things you should know as you head over to Italy to explore:
– Italians have little tolerance for being drunk. While they seem to have a glass of wine at the ready from mid-morning until bedtime, they do not overindulge. Sip your wine; take your time; slow down and enjoy the day and the ease of relaxation.
-“Vino di Tavolo” is house wine. It is always red and I’ve never had a bad glass anywhere in Italy … that includes all my vacations there and the nearly three years I lived there. Save your money and get the house wine.
– When faced with the choice of white or red on a very hot day, consider wisely. At a cafe on a piazza in Sorrento, the waiter asked us which we wanted and when we said red he gave us a smile of approval and responded, “Si, si” … which literally means “yes, yes” but can be translated into “good choice.” A brief glance around at the other tables revealed no carafes of white to be seen.
Finally – don’t be afraid to try the local wines. Italians have made an art of creating spectacular wines. If you’re not sure which one to have with what you’re eating, ask your server who will happily offer a few suggestions.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. In Italy and around the world, embrace the local flavors. Il vino è vita!
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