This post was sponsored by the Italian Trade Agency as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Last summer, we visited Rome, Florence, Bologna, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Montalcino. It was the most amazing vacation and we learned so much about Italian culture, Italian history, and of course, Italian food and wine as well. We tried our best to avoid tourist traps, other than a few really important ones, such as the Colosseum. For the most part, we aimed to find authentic Italian experiences, such as the wine tour that we did in Montalcino. It truly was the best wine tour in Tuscany and we learned so much!
I receive questions all the time about what we did in Italy and when people find out that we went on a Montalcino wine tour, they have so many questions about not only the tour, but also about the wine itself. To answer some of those questions, Ian and I hosted a wine night with a couple of our friends the other day. We picked out two different wines that we purchased in Tuscany, and we made a food pairing to go with it as well. We made the night extremely educational, which was so fun, and I wanted to share some of the information with all of you.
When you visit Tuscany for a wine tour, you have so many options because Tuscany is Italy’s 6th largest wine producer, with red wine accounting for 85% of the region’s production! Some of the best wine areas around Tuscany are Chianti, Montalcino, Cortona, and Montepulciano and you cannot go wrong with any of them.
We personally chose to visit Montalcino because Brunello di Montalcino has history. Not only do families take pride in each bottle of wine produced, but Brunello di Montalcino was also among the first wines to be awarded DOCG status, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. In English, that means the Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin. This basically means that that a winery must follow strict regulations when making Brunello di Montalcino. For example, Brunello wines have to age for a minimum of two years in wooden barrels and age another four years in a cellar before they can be sold.
Brunello di Montalcino is made from a local clone of the Sangiovese grape called Sangiovese Grosso. To locals, they just call it “Brunello.” The grape is a thicker-skinned berry, which is why Brunello di Montalcino wine is so bold with high tannins and acidity. Brunello di Montalcino wine is best when aged as it improves with time. Ian and I actually have about 10 bottles sitting in our standing cellar, which we plan to age for about 20+ years. So exciting!
On our tour we drove through Tuscany, learning about the land, the wine, and the food, but my favorite aspect about our wine tour was learning about Italian culture. We learned a lot but there were definitely a few things that stuck out to me.
For example, when you see a winery in Italy, it is inclusive of all of their land and all of their grapes. There are no other plots. This is so unlike what we are used to seeing in the United States. Another thing that stood out is the fact that that they live a simple, easy life. A life that is sweet and stress-free. They have a few different phrases for it such as “slow living” and “la dolce vita.” Their lives revolve around family, love, happiness, food, and of course, wine. To winemakers, it is not a job. It is a passion, a love affair, and a family business. Since learning about their way of life, I now try my very best to incorporate this style of living into my everyday life because it truly was so sweet, easy, and happy.
The other night was a perfect example of how I incorporate la dolce vita into my life today. We got creative and came up with a hearty meat stew, which pairs perfectly with Brunello di Montalcino. Most of our guests were surprised that we didn’t go with a ‘traditional’ cheese plate, and while Brunello does go well with blue cheese or Pecorino Toscano DOP cheese, heavy meat dishes such as stews, steaks, and oxtail really make the wine stand out. So, we threw a stew on the stove, which allowed us to really live in the moment and have a stress-free night with friends. It was perfect! We offered tastes of Brunello di Montalcino, as well as Rosso di Montalcino, which is from the same area and grape but only requires aging for one year. We paired the wines with a great meat stew and we had fun with friends and family.
With 20 wine regions and as many as 3,000 grape varieties (590 have so far been catalogued), there truly is so much to explore when it comes to Italian wine and, in my opinion, you cannot go wrong because every Italian wine that I have tried has been amazing because of the love, passion, and history that is put into each bottle. If you want to learn more about Italian wine, I highly recommend heading over to Italy for the best wine tour in Tuscany (I have other recommendations for other regions, as well!) and in the meantime, I also recommend reading more from the Italian Trade Agency . They have so much information on their website and you will truly feel like an Italian wine pro once you finish reading the information they provide. Remember to enjoy responsibly!