Italy is currently the world’s largest wine producer, with over 1 million vineyards in the whole country. In 2008 the country churned out a vast 6 billion litres of wine! And each Italian drinks (on average of course) a whopping 59 litres of the stuff every year. May not seem like a lot, at just under 2 bottles a week, but it certainly is when compared to the US average of 7.7 litres per year per capita.
Winemaking in Italy was, however, not begun by the Romans, as according to popular opinion. It was practised by ancient Greek settlers and Etruscans (previous dwellers of the Tuscany region) for centuries before the Romans began the art in the 2nd century BC. The Romans became pioneers in winemaking, in fields (pardon the pun) such as bottle making and coopering (barrel making).
Despite wines having been made from wild grapes (Vitis vinifera) for thousands of year, it was the Greek colonisation of Italy that influenced winemaking to take off. With the Roman defeat of the Carthaginians (early masters of wine making) Viticulture further flourished in Italy. Huge plantations sprung up all over Italy in the Roman period, run by vast numbers of slaves. As a tactful measure, the Romans prohibited winemaking outside of Italy; therefore they could exchange their Italian wine for slaves, especially from Gaul (early Celtic northern Europe).
Surprisingly, it was customary at these times to mix wine with water, thus improving the quality of water that may have been undrinkable, similar to the purpose of beer in medieval Europe.
Italian Winemaking Regions
Italy is truly one of the world’s most suitable winemaking countries. Factors in this include the long, narrow shape of the peninsula, so grapes can be grown from the Alps to a shoreline with Africa in sight. Also, the extreme altitude range of the country enables wine to be grown at sea level to high in the mountains, thus highly ranging soil characteristics, climate, and grape variety ideals.
Italy has 20 winemaking regions (corresponding to the 20 regions of Italy):
· Valle d’Aosta (AostaValley)
· Piemonte (Piedmont)
· Lombardia (Lombardy)
· Trentino-Alto Adige
· Fruili-Venezia Giulia
· Toscana (Tuscany)
· Le Marche (Marche)
· Puglia (Apulia)
· Sicilia (Sicily)
· Sardegna (Sardinia)
Italian wine is now exported all over the world, especially known for it’s beautiful tastes and flavours. Red, White, Rose, and Sparkling wines make up just a part of Italy’s wine export industry. Good Wine online is a leading Italian White Wine retailer in the UK.. best willamette valley wine tours