Italy: land of wine and olive oil

When you think about good wine, Italy and its regions with gentle hills immediately come to mind. In fact, Italy is home to some of the best wines in the world. The history of wine in Italy has very ancient origins. The Greeks were the real initiators of the Italian wine culture. It was in fact this people, around the VII century BC, who introduced the development of viticulture and the art of winemaking to Italy, first in Calabria, then in Campania and Sicily. The Romans then, thanks to their military conquests, spread the culture of wine throughout Europe.

Italy is currently the largest wine producer in the world, with about 50 million hectoliters of wine, a turnover of 11 billion euros and 19.8% of the entire world export.

The new winemaking techniques and the modernization of viticulture have led to a sensational improvement in the quality of the wine, with a vast offer that differs in color, flavor, style and tradition. The regions that hold most of the wine production in Italy are: Tuscany, Piedmont, Puglia, Sicily, Emilia Romagna and Veneto.

The various levels of the classification of wines constitute the different steps of the quality of Italian wines, which act as a link among the production areas (regions and provinces), the vines that are grown there and the methods of cultivation and vinification that lead to obtaining the final product.

“Sangiovese” is the most cultivated red grape variety in Italy and is particularly widespread in central Italy. “Trebbiano” is instead the most widespread white grape variety in Italy.

Among the most important red wines we mention Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo and Barbaresco, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Aglianico, Cabernet, Merlot, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Syrah, Nero d’Avola. Among the white wines we remember instead Moscato, Malvasia, Aromatic Traminer, Lacrima, Vernaccia and Brachetto.

Extra virgin olive oil is also one of the most popular Italian products in the world. Also in this case the olive oil finds its origin in the “mists of time”. Symbol of sacredness and peace, the olive tree has accompanied the history of man from the dawn of civilization to the present day. Today, then, the nutritional value of the oil has been considerably re-evaluated, being one of the most precious ingredients of Mediterranean cuisine. Olive oil is not just a simple condiment, but a real food that enhances dishes and is good for health. Olive oil has thus become a successful Italian phenomenon all over the world.

After Spain, Italy is the second largest producer of olive oil in Europe and in the world, with an average national production of over 464,000 tons. And it is the most important Country in the world for the production of quality extra virgin olive oil. In fact, Italy has 41 PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Typical Geographical Indication) denominations recognized by the European Union. Extra Virgin olive oil is the oil obtained only by mechanical pressing of the olives, using heat to facilitate their extraction in such quantities as not to cause alterations of the oil itself.

The production of olive oil is the prerogative of southern Italy. Puglia, Calabria, Sicily and Campania have in fact an incidence in the national production of over 85% of all the olive oil produced in Italy. The remaining production is divided among Tuscany, Liguria, Umbria, Marche and Abruzzo. Italy is also the only Country in the world that produces 500 different varieties of olives with very different and all excellent characteristics.