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Fun Facts about Italian Wine & Regions!

Fun Facts about Italian Wine & Regions!

The ancient Greeks brought wine to Italy over 4,000 years ago as they populated the islands and the mainland of the South of Italy. So perfect was the landscape and climate for grape growing that the Greeks referred to Italy as ‘Oenotria’, which translates to ‘The Land of Wine’.


Italy is by far the world's largest wine producer. For 2021, Italy produced over 25% more than 2nd place Spain, which was only fractionally ahead of 3rd place France.


Not only is Italy one of the largest producers of wine in the world, they are also one of the top consumers of wine, with the average adult Italian drinking over 40 Liters per year. This is down considerably from the not too distant past as craft beer and cocktails surge in popularity across Europe, but still miles ahead of the average American at just 10L per person. 


The word vino (wine in Italian) comes from the Sanskrit word “venas” which means “to love”. From the same word comes the name “Venus” – the Roman goddess of love.


This vast amount of wine is produced from a wider variety of grapes than anywhere else. Viticulturist and botanists estimate that around 30% of all grape species are Italian, most of which are still found only there. There are over 2000 grape varieties in Italy with over 350 of currently approved for winemaking.


Italy is divided into 20 general wine regions with those subdivided into over 350 DOC sub-regions. Similar to our AVA system in the Unites States, or the French AOC system, Italy has the DOC system for controlling wine labeling. The lowest quality/regional level is VdT (Vino da Tavola), Italy's "table wines" that can be sourced and blended from anywhere in Italy, from any approved grape varieties and not necessarily adhering to the stricter standards of higher designations. This doesn't mean that all VdT wines are simple, uninteresting swill. Many of Italy's best and most expensive wines wear or at one time wore the VdT badge since their producers decided to break some of the DOC rules in their given region. 


IGT (Indicazione Geographica Tipica) are wines that come from a particular zone or region is the next step above VdT. Wines with this designation must contain fruit from a single area. Many of the "rule breaker" high quality wines that used to be forced to bear the lowly VdT moniker now can use the newer IGT designation.


DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), is similar to IGT, in that the grapes must come from the specified region, the the regions are smaller and minimum quality standards for things such as approved varietals, minimum ageing, maximum production and yields.


 DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) is Italy's highest ranking and only around 60 areas have been awarded this designation. There are strict conditions in the DOCG rules relating to the origin of the grapes, the varieties, the methods that can be used, the maximum yield and the location and production method of vinification.


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