10 Years of WineLab August 21, 2023
FLC May 2023 - Vive le Vin! June 05, 2023
First Look Club
FLC February - Italian Holiday Inspiration
By the end of February, many of us have our eyes on the summer horizon. Summer holidays are filling up diaries quickly and giving us all something to look forward to. If you’re looking for inspiration for European travel this year, we hope this FLC box of Italian gems will inspire you to consider an Italian holiday outside of the tourist hotspots of the Amalfi Coast, Venice or Rome. Ciao!
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Etruscan Wine – Italy’s Wine Roots
If you’re a wine nerd who hasn’t started obsessing over Italian wine… start now! A country with 2,000 recorded varieties, with about 400 in commercial production, Italy’s wine scene is one of endless variety. It’s one of the main reasons we can’t get enough of it in WineLab. With many different landscapes, climates and terroir throughout the country, there is a style of wine for every occasion. While the French have transformed the way the world talks about wine with the concept of terroir, we’d argue that Italy’s many local varieties and traditions showcase a more dynamic, lived experience of terroir in its wines.
To better understand why Italy’s wines stand out from other places, we need to look back about 3,000 years. The Etruscans were an early ancient civilization in modern day northern Italy, and extended throughout Italy before ultimately losing influence to the Romans. They were some of the first winegrowers in Italy. Unlike the neat, manicured vineyards we associate with vineyards, the early wine grapes were harvested from wild Mediterranean vines. These vines wrapped themselves around trees and other wild plants, such as fruit trees, olive trees, and cereals. The plants offered stability for the vine and the plants’ leaves provided shade for the grapes. This was an early example of ‘married vines’. Over time, as the Etruscans encountered other winemaking cultures such as the Greeks, they adapted new growing and winemaking techniques to improve their wines, and started early iterations of the modern day vineyard. The ‘married vine’ idea was adapted and persisted throughout Italy in various forms until after the Second World War. While the commercial demands of the modern wine industry make it difficult to cultivate vines this way, this history is why there is such an array of indigenous grape varieties that flourish.
Italy’s rich food culture is another key factor that makes us so impressed by Italian wine. Arguably, there is no country that does a better job of fulfilling the wine and food pairing rule of thumb: ‘If it grows together, it goes together’. When you consider the history of the Etruscan’s ‘married vines’, you can see how local grape varieties and agriculture had a huge influence on each other. Each local area of Italy has a fierce pride in their cuisine, and the accompanying local wines are always a perfect match. The rich, meaty dishes of the North are made even better by a glass of Nebbiolo, the tomato-based dishes of the south sing with grapes such as Primitivo and Nero d’Avola, and in Venice can you imagine a more refreshing pairing with a snack of scartosso de pesse frito (fried fish in a paper cone) than a Prosecco?