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Italian wines
Italian wines

The rich heritage of Italian wines

Italy has a rich food and wine heritage, established since the days of the Roman Empire. In fact, some of the world's earliest wines, from Italy, were produced by Romans, who had perfected the techniques of former Etruscan and Greek migrants. The Etruscans first began producing wine in central Italy and the Greek settlers were so impressed with the Italian climate and its conduciveness to wine making that they named the country Oenotria, which means 'trained vines'. Romans improved on the techniques of these early settlers and wine grew in popularity.

Wine was so much enjoyed that even the enslaved people would drink it liberally. Roman wine contained a higher concentration of alcohol and so it was generally diluted with water. Around 300 BC, the population increased, as did the demand for wine. Romans became quite skilled in wine making, introducing preps and trellises, which was an improvement on the Greek presses. White wine was also enjoyed, as Romans had a preference for sweet white wines.

The fall of the Roman Empire saw a decline in the drinking of wine, although its popularity re-emerged during the era of the Renaissance. The quality, associated with Italian wines, declined during the 19th and 20th centuries and so the DOCG, a regulating board, was created, to ensure standards remained high.

The demise of the Roman Empire also resulted in the establishment of diversity within culinary sectors. Various Italian states began carving out their individual identities, creating styles and techniques, within the preparation of their recipes. Certain types of dishes were also associated with specific regions and states, like for example black truffles and Marche or tortellini and Bologna. Italian wine is similarly associated with specific regions, although it's important to note that the Muscat grape was the first to be cultivated and it's where all other varieties stem from.

The origin of Moscato wine links to the Muscat grape, brought from Greece to Italy, where it thrived in the rich Piedmont soil, later being named Moscato Bianco di Canelli. Ancient records trace its cultivation to the village of Canale, in the year 1303. Sparkling wines also have an extensive Italian heritage and are said to have been in existence, since the Roman era. Sparkling wine was produced in the north, due to the cooler climate. Varieties, like Prosecco produced in northern Italy, Asti produced in Piedmont and Moscato D'Asti made from Muscat grapes, still remain very popular and are generally associated with festivities and celebrations.

Today every region in Italy produces quality wines, ranging from red, white and sparkling. Italian wines are the most diverse and are rated as being among significantly superior in taste and quality.


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