An Italian Wine Guide
As lovers of fine wine know, Italy is an important producer of some of Europe's best. So much so that the finest London Hotels, New York restaurants or Asian eateries all stock wine grown from this fine country.
Wine-making has flourished in the region for more than three thousand years, and for a time Italy was not only the most important but the only wine producing area.
Viticulture outside of Italy was prohibited under Roman law at one point, and wine was so important to the Italians that emperor Domitian destroyed many foreign vineyards in AD92 to give over land to food production.
These days, Italy is still a massive producer of wines in 2005, the country produced around 20 per cent of the global total reaching as far as the middle east and even encroaching on other wine making regions such as Australia, Chile and Argentina.
For many people, Piedmont
stands out as the best Italian wine region, though Lombardy and Veneto are also well known.
But there are actually 20 wine regions across the country producing some of the best wines in the world, including Brunello di Montalcino
, Barbaresco and Barolo.
Some of the wines are lovingly laid down by connoisseurs, but most people at some point will have tried a Pinot Grigio, which is one of the most popular whites.
is an Italian wine region producing many outstanding wines, including Valpolicella and Amarone.
Valpolicella is a spicy, fruity red while Amarone which has upwards of 16 per cent alcohol by volume can command huge prices.
You don't need to have deep pockets to afford a Dolcetto, however. Coming from Piedmont, this wine translates as "little sweet one" and makes a delightful wine suitable for any occasion.
Another famous variety, indeed one that is the pride of Tuscany, is Sangiovese.
Very popular right across the world, Sangiovese produces Chianti and Rosso di Montalcino, among others.
Among the other leading wine producing areas are Apulia, Campania, Lombardy and Trentino.
All are worth a visit, not only to get the chance to sample the wines at source but also to taste the Italian cuisine that has made the country such a great tourist destination.