Living in Italy has made me adapt to a certain way of life. This adaptation has been necessary, I would say essential, as the Italian's definitely haven't adapted to my way of doing things. This has been an interesting experience and means I have to watch myself when I return to my homeland. For example, when in California I have to stop myself from pushing into queues and speaking with a raised voice to strangers.
But queuing manners aside this adaptation has been a very positive experience. Living in Italy has allowed me to experience certain things much more than I did so before. And wine definitely is one of those things.
In Italy wine is something to be savoured. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved and savoured wine, in particular the Italian variety, with its beautiful complexity of flavours reminiscent of an opera by Giuseppe Verdi brought to life. But in Italy this is taken to the next level. It’s quite common to see an Italian man or woman, scrutinising the menu with care then ordering one, maximum two, glasses of wine and cradling this lovingly for the whole of an evening.
Italians approach the production of their wine like they do food, with meticulous care and attention, resulting in world class products. The long peninsula's varied but mostly agreeable weather, combined with rich soils creates a huge diversity of wines, from sparkling light whites all the way to deep full-bodied reds.
Like food, there is a vast selection of wines that are unknown outside Italy. For this reason a visit to a local cantina or enoteca is highly recommended. During these visits you can pick up top quality bottles at source at a fraction of the price compared to buying at home.
How to order wine in an Italian restaurant
● The wine list won’t usually be organised by wine type, but rather by region.
● Drink wine the EXPO way, ask for ‘Chilometro Zero’ wine to strengthen the local economy whilst minimising C02 emissions.
● Ask your server which wines best fit the dishes you’ve ordered. It's no trouble at all -- Italians love to talk wine!
● DOC / DOCG: Look for Denominazione di Origine labels on the wine list to enjoy a bottle that's quality ensured.
● One size fits all: If you are ordering a glass of wine (bicchiere or calice) there isn’t an option of small or large.
Here are a few great options to try wine produced in northern Italy
● Franciacorta is famed for its fabulous sparkling white wines that are on a par with those from France's Champagne region.
● Piedmont produces world-renowned full-bodied reds including Barolo and Barbaresco made from the Nebbiolo grape. While Barolo is the heavier, more tannic option of the two, Barbera and Dolcetto are lighter, drinkable reds.
● The Valpolicella region near Verona is home to deliciously rich Amarone wine.