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When you think of Italian wine country, you’re probably picturing Tuscany. Cypress trees lining dirt roads, vineyards hugging the curves of rolling hills, and centuries-old stone villas perched above it all. Wine production has thrived in the region since the time of the ancient Etruscans, over 3,000 years ago.
The major wines produced in Tuscany are Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. The Chianti Classico region is located in the center of Tuscany, stretching from Florence south to Siena. Chianti is probably Italy’s most famous wine on a global scale; its popularity abroad dates back to the 17th century.
To the south and east of Siena are the towns of Montalcino, Montepulciano, Cortona, and Arezzo, which are famous for producing Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello’s complex flavors make it ideal for aging.
About 80% of Tuscany’s wines are red, and Sangiovese is the major grape varietal of the region. Sangiovese grapes offer an extremely versatile flavor profile, from tart berries to earthy peppers and tomatoes, which account for the great variety across Tuscan wines.A Beginner's Guide to Italian Wine
While it may not have the name-brand power of Tuscany, Puglia is actually Italy’s most prolific region—it produces about 17% of the country’s wine, more than any other region. Located on “the boot” of Italy, Puglia’s sunny climate, cool Mediterranean breezes, and fertile soil are ideal not only for grapes but also for olive trees. Half of the country’s olive oil is produced here.
The most common grape varieties in Puglia are Primitivo and Negroamaro, which produce the popular Salice Salentino wine. These red wines are full-bodied, fruit-forward, and make an ideal complement to Mediterranean food. While the region was originally known for producing inexpensive wines for export, the quality of production has increased dramatically over the last few decades. There are now 29 DOC zones in Puglia, and renowned winemakers are crafting elegant wines that are quickly gaining an international reputation.
If you've never been to Italy and had a glass of wine in Tuscany, add it to your bucket list.All Italy Vacations
In general, the Tuscany region is most prized for winemaking. Want to try each region’s superstar? Here’s a look at what to try in a handful of the twenty regions where your travels are most likely to take you.
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