Italy has long inspired those of us who have sought worldly pleasures with a diversity of breathtaking landscapes, a sea of artistic treasures, mouthwatering culinary delights and of course, incredible wines.
The boot covers 10 degrees of latitude – from the Alpine foothills in the North to the warm, sweaty parts of the heel and toe. The country’s soil, terrain and climate is varied; it’s no wonder that Italy boasts so many different styles of wine such as sweet, dry, sparkling, and fortified just to name a few. Add to that the diverse ecological conditions including over 1000 different grape varieties, many of which are rarely found outside of their region, let alone outside of Italy.
A little bit of history
Italy has been producing wine for over three thousand years, and is the world’s largest producer of wine. When travelling through the country’s regions and varied landscapes, it becomes obvious that almost every available space is taken up by vines. In fact colonizing Greeks found such viticultural bliss in the Southern regions that they called the land “Oenotria”, or ‘land of staked vine’.
Italian Wine Culture VS Nova Scotia Wine Culture
Being married to an Italian and travelling to Italy every few years, I have noticed marked differences in Italian and Nova Scotian wine culture. Mostly it is around wine and food. For example, in Italy wine with lunch is not taboo. Whether you are at home or eating out, many people will have some wine with their food. In Nova Scotia, some people may enjoy a glass of wine at a special lunch, but it is still not a cultural norm.
Also, wine is generally always served with food; as an aperitivo before dinner and pretty much always with supper.
An Italian State of Mind
Today Italian wines are considered by critics to be amongst the best in the world. With twenty different regions producing so many styles of wine from an array of unique grape varietals, the choices are seemingly endless when it comes to Italian wines.
The concept of “terroir” explains why a particular wine grown in a particular environment tastes the way it does. The Oxford Companion To Wine defines terroir as the “total natural environment” of a vineyard. This natural environment is more than the soil: it takes into account topography, climate, sunlight, rainfall and other natural factors. Terroir is important to consider when looking at Italian wines – as the country is made up of so many different terroirs that affect the wine’s personality. In the book Vino Italiano, restauranteurs and wine professionals Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch state that: “the experience of drinking an Italian wine isn’t complete without the food products that grow in the same soil, nor without some sense of the culture that created it.”
Lucky for us here in Nova Scotia, Bishop’s Cellar has an incredible selection of wines on our shelves from all corners of Italy. Below are a few of my favourites available for purchase online or in our store.