The Fascinating Faces of Italian Wine

by Mario 14-Jan 2010

The next time you go to Piedmont (Piemonte) take a look at the average Piemontese winemaker. Chances are he is tall, muscular and somewhat tight-lipped. Now look at his wine. The wines of Piedmont, such as Barolo, Italy’s king of wines are big in stature, powerful and unapproachable — that is until you uncork them and let them breathe for quite a while. Typically, the Piemontesi show the same characteristics until given time to get to know you. Like their wine, once they open up you will have an unforgettable friend for life.

Tuscany is a bit different. Tuscans are the marketeers of Italy. For instance, everyone raves about Tuscan olive oil; however most of what is “packed in Lucca” originates in Puglia, Abruzzo and a host of other places. The Tuscans are salesmen. They are handsome and charming. Now look at Chianti, Tuscany’s most popular wine. It is a happy, engaging and popular beverage. However, a typical Chianti may have as many as six or seven different varietals in each bottle. No one ever knows what’s truly in the bottle except the vintner. The same may be said for those alert and engaging Tuscan eyes — while smitten, you may never fully understand what’s behind them either.

Sicilian wines, like their makers are small in stature and nowhere near as popular as their neighbors to the north, yet, when you taste a Sicilian Marsala it is sweet and fiery, just like the people. Sicilians are filled with passion and their eyes openly reveal the intensity that burns within. A good Marsala burns going down and makes you glow from within.

Luigi Minnucci (center) presenting wine tasting awards

The credit for these interesting observations go to Luigi Minnucci, a world class sommelier and very dear friend who passed away last year in his native Abruzzo. Help me honor Luigi by adding more popular wines and the resemblance of their makers to this list.


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