Most travellers associate Italy to its wine and food. Tuscany is one of Italy’s top wine producing regions with its famous reds: Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. There is nothing like a wine tasting tour to discover more about how and where these wines are made. Drinking Italian wine will no longer just be about taste but also about the faces and the stories behind it.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Wine tasting in Tuscany
Tuscany is prime wine making territory. The countryside is peppered with small and big wine producers, happy to showcase an art form and science passed down from generation to generation. Many wineries not only offer wine cellar and tasting tours but also have accommodation and a restaurant on site. These farm stays are perfect for visitors who want to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Tuscan countryside. Wine lovers might want to sample more than one type of wine, though. A wine tasting tour is a perfect way to discover more about the region through one of its most famous exports.
Organic and eco friendly wine
The organic and eco friendly movement has finally hit Italy and its wine production. If you are interested in alternative methods of production that are more respectful of the environment, there are quite a few possible wineries to visit. A great example is Podere di Pomaio near Arezzo. This vineyard doesn’t use pesticides or fertilisers and keeps the quantity of sulfites as low as possible. They also work hard to maintain a small carbon footprint by producing everything in house.
Types of wine tasting tours
There are usually two types of wine tasting tours: private or group tours. Wineries are not open to the public every day and have different time tables in low and high season. I strongly recommend contacting the winery in advance to find out when they offer tours and to book it. Though most wine producers offer a tour of the cellars which includes wine tasting, some only offer this service for an extra cost (like for example Castello Banfi). Make sure these details are clear before booking to avoid any awkwardness later. If you don’t want to bother with the booking details or the drive after the wine tasting, you could organise a tour with driver starting from Florence.
Less famous wines
Though Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montalcino are some of the most famous Tuscan wines, don’t underestimate some less famous ones. The area of Carmignano, particularly Artimino have excellent productions. And if you want a change from all the reds, go to San Gimignano to taste the famous Vernaccia. The Bianco di Bolgheri is also worth the trip to this beautiful village not far from the coast.
Alternative to wine tasting tours: the Enoteca
If you don’t want to go on a wine tasting tour, do what Italians do. Find out what the local production is and test it out at a restaurant with your meal. There are even restaurants called enotecas which offer a very wide variety of wines. The menu is usually simple hearty food devised to pair well with certain wines. If you find the lengthy wine card daunting, ask your waiter which type of wine goes best with your meal and he or she will be happy to oblige!