The background to Italian wine
Wine Laws
Wine regions
Grape varieties
Reading An Italian Wine Label
Zones and quality grades
Producers and vineyards
Style and quality
The Language Of Italy
The Essentials Of Italy

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The ancient greeks called italy oenotria, the land of wine. Grapes are still grown throughout the country, and the Variety of wines challenges and delights the wine lover.

Italy makes more wine than any other country, even France. Italy also makes more kinds of wine, with more names, than anywhere else in the world. This profusion stems from the ubiquity of the vine. Virtually every peasant plot and grand estate grows grapes for wine. Every region of this diverse and locally loyal country protects and promotes its own wine names. The result is more than 200 officially-recognized wine zones, and perhaps two million wine producers.

Italy makes every style of wine, including fortified and sparkling, and exploits its myriad micro-climates and sites to add a further layer of variety. The following pages divide Italy into three broad zones: the north, the centre, and the south and islands. The north covers a ring of wine districts from northwest to north-east, mostly in the foothills of the Alps and Apennines. Here are found the quality wines of Piedmont, such as Barolo, extensive sparkling-wine vineyards, and a range of districts making red and, particularly, white wines.

The influence of foreign, especially German and French, wine styles and grape varieties is felt here to a greater extent than elsewhere in Italy. The centre covers the districts in and around Tuscany, whose Chianti vineyards form Italy's most important quality wine-producing region. The southern part of peninsular Italy and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia still follow the older wine traditions of the Mediterranean, with sweet, strong wines, powerful reds and specialties such as marsala, and large amounts of low-quality wine.

Italian wine is changing fast, with international grape varieties, techniques and ideas merging with native ones, Wine legislation, which served well for two decades after its introduction in 1963, became outdated in some respects. In 1992 a new law improved the regulations. While these advances are welcome, the conundrum of what an Italian wine is actually like in style and taste, beyond the bare legal requirements, can be solved only by reference to the producer's name. Even then, in the wave of experimentation that swept the country in the 1980s and early 1990s, with winemakers trying new recipes and techniques, a wine could be quite different in character from one year to the next.

Wine regions of the world.

History of wine
Choosing Wine
Keeping Wine
Serving Wine
Tasting Wine
Wine and Food
Making of Wine
Maturing Wine
Wine Terminology
Creating A Cellar
Facts And Fallacies
Wine Glossary
Reading Wine Label
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