Italian Wine Country: Abruzzi to Sicily Article -
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Italian Wine Country: Abruzzi to Sicily

Italy's civilized beverage.

Let's look at some of Italy's top wine producing regions--and pair up a few recipes with the wines we find!

Abruzzi Wine Region

Abruzzi is a mountainous region situated about midway up the boot on the Adriatic side of the Apennines. Its hot, dry climate favors the native red grape Montepulciano. In the hill country around northern Abruzzi, Montepulciano grapes make full-bodied, robust but smooth-drinking wines that are often peppery and spicy--making them the perfect complement to the region's sometimes spicy food. The crisp, refreshing white wine from here is made from Trebbiano d'Abruzzo grapes and goes well with the seafood pulled from the waters of the Adriatic. (Curiously, no Montepulciano grapes go into a bottle of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. In the case of Vino Nobile, the word "Montepulciano" refers only to the eponymous Tuscan town where Sangiovese, not Montepulciano, grapes are primarily grown. Confusing enough?)

Major Red Wines of Abruzzi: Montepulciano d'Abbruzzo

Major White Wines of Abruzzi: Trebbiano d'Abbruzzo

Regional foods of Abruzzi

Montepulciano is the perfect pour to satisfy Abruzzi's robust cuisine. It pairs wonderfully with grilled lamb, rich lasagna with spicy meat sauce and braised pork ribs. Tomatoes, olive oil and chili peppers do very well in Abruzzi's warm climate. Saffron is also grown here. In this part of Italy, pasta is mostly dry and made from durum wheat. Pecorino is an important cheese.

Regional Italian Recipes to Pair with the Wines of Abruzzi:

Campania Wine Region

When Mount Vesuvius blew its lid in 79AD and buried the bustling city of Pompeii beneath a pile of ash, it also took down a major wine producing area. Campania's return to winemaking glory has been painfully slow. Today, however, local winemakers are combining the fruit of ancient vineyards with modern winemaking techniques to produce wines that are regaining international respect. The most important red grape grown in Campania is the native Aglianico. The white grapes of note are Greco, an ancient Greek grape that makes dry Greco di Tufo, and Fiano, which makes Fiano di Avellino.

Favorite Red Grapes of Campania: Taurasi and Falerno del Massico (made from Aglianico grapes)

Favorite White Grapes of Campania: Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino

Regional foods of Campania

Campania is fertile country. Fresh fruit and vegetables thrive in the rich volcanic soils and are mainstays of the Campanian diet. The famous San Marzano plum tomatoes grow here and are featured in the region's wood-fired pizzas and calzones. This being pizza country, cheese is an important product. Goat cheese, buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, mascarpone and pecorino are a few of the top cheeses. Seafood is a standout here, as well.

Regional Italian Recipes to Pair with the Wines of Campania:


Apulia comprises the high-heel portion of Italy's boot. It enjoys a hot, dry climate and typically produces more wine than any other Italian region. Though it cannot be said that quality was always Job One in Apulia, the situation has been steadily improving. Several of the better-known wines are Castel del Monte, Primitivo di Manduria (the Primitivo grape is a relative of California's Zinfandel) and Salice Salentino (a wine made primarily from native Negro Amaro grapes). International grapes are grown here as well, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot, along with whites like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Apulia also produces rosé wines.

Favorite Wines of Apulia: Castel del Monte, Primitivo di Manduria, Salice Salentino, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc

Regional foods of Apulia
Apulia is a major producer of grain, olive oil and vegetables. Soups, stews and pastas (usually made from dry durum wheat) make use of the region's fava beans, artichokes, eggplants, peppers, arugula and other greens and vegetables. The sea provides frutti di mare including mussels and oysters.

Regional Italian Recipes to Pair with the Wines of Apulia:

Sicilian Wine Region

Separated from the peninsula by the narrow Strait of Messina, Sicily sits at the toe of the Italian boot like a crumpled tin can being kicked out into the sea. Wine vines have thrived on this rugged volcanic island since the Greeks first began colonizing Italy about 3,000 years ago. Today, many Sicilian vintners treat their grapes of ancient pedigree to modern, progressive methods of winemaking. Here grapes are grown on volcanic soils under the strong Sicilian sun, producing warm red wines and light, dry whites, along with Sicily's signature fortified wine, Marsala. Some of the best wines are grown from native varieties like the red grapes Nero d'Avola and Nerello Mascalese and from such white grapes as Grillo and Inzolia. But you will also find Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon doing well in the ancient vineyards of Sicily.

Favorite Red Wines of Sicily: Nero d'Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Marsala, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon

Favorite White Wines of Sicily: Grillo, Inzolia, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay

Regional foods of Sicily

Grapes are not the only fruits that thrive in the warm Sicilian sunshine. Oranges, lemons, figs, tomatoes and eggplants also love the climate and rich volcanic soils. The waters around Sicily provide tuna, sardines, anchovies and swordfish--marvelous matches for Sicilian white wines. Dry pastas come in every shape and size in Sicily. The local olive oil is often poured over pastas and used to marinate fish. Local cheeses include the hard Pecorino Siciliano and creamy ricotta.

Regional Italian Recipes to Pair with Sicilian Wines:

Other Italian Wine Regions

Read more about Italian wine regions.

Dec. 1, 2009 6:54 am
This article is one of the best, most concise and informative descriptions of Italian wines I've seen. My husband and I love wine, and your food pairings all sound delicious!
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