Italy is commonly known for its artistic beauty, good food and amazing wine. Most of the time tourists are knowledgeable about places to visit and food but not always on the wine culture and what to drink.
I try to provide tourists, who are not particularly up to date on Italian wine habits, with some tips on how to enjoy a good wine.
To do this, we take advantage of the professional experience of Luca D’Onofrio, owner of Restaurant & Lounge Bar “AQVOLINA” at Venturina Terme, in the heart of Tuscany, and a member of the Association of Italian Sommeliers (AIS, delegation of Livorno). Here are Luca’s top ten tips for finding and drinking the best wines while visiting Italy:
1. When in a restaurant, always ask if there is a sommelier. With their professionalism, they will advise you on the most suitable wine to complement your meal.
2. Always ask for the wine list first. That way you have an idea of cost and variety of wines before you speak to the expert.
3. Choosing the most expensive wine on the wine list does not always means drinking the best.
4. Choose the dishes you would like to eat first and then the wine or wines.
5. Each Italian region has its traditional wines. Choose wines typical of the places you are visiting. Of course, every good restaurant has a variety of wines from the main geographical areas of production but would you go to Tuscany or Sicily to taste a wine from France, California or New Zealand?
6. Drinking a wine of a certain territory is always a way to get to know and appreciate the place we are visiting. Generally, the local wines accompany the typical dishes of the region perfectly.
7. Many restaurants offer the “service by the glass” that way you can match a specific wine to every dish. In order to remember the pairings you liked best, I recommend you bring a notebook so you may jot down the type of wine, the year, and the manufacturer. So, you can better remember the experience and perhaps even have the information to purchase the wine again in the future.
8. Once you have chosen the bottle, make sure it is opened in your presence. Remember you’ll have to try it and approve its quality.
9. If at the end of lunch or dinner, you will not have finished the contents of the bottle of wine, you are allowed to take the rest of the bottle with you. You’ve paid it so it is yours.
10. Drink in moderation and slowly. The wine must be tasted as it accompanies the dish. Be sure to drink plenty of water as well to stay hydrated.