When I see American or British TV shows I am sometimes under the impression that people abroad believe that the relationship between Italians and wine is the same as the relationship the English-speaking world has to alcoholic drinks. And to them Italy is paradise… or hell! Well, it’s neither.
If it’s true that the younger generation is developing an attitude towards drinking like many foreign countries (i.e. getting drunk is common and often the purpose of a night out), this is by no means the general attitude Italians have towards drinking, and wine especially.
Here are 10 things about Italians and wine that you might not know.
- Wine accompanies a meal. We rarely drink wine outside a meal. Maybe as an aperitivo, but as a rule, wine is drunk with your food and usually not in litres. We have one, maybe two glasses over the course of one to three hours.
- We have a preference for red wine when we eat meat or hearty foods and white when we eat seafood or light meals like a salad. This is not written in stone. Nobody will look funny at you if you choose otherwise.
- We do not fill our wine glasses to the rim. A glass of wine for us means some wine at the bottom of the wine glass.
- We try to avoid wines that come in screw-top bottles or boxes. Bottles of wine have been sealed with cork for centuries for a reason: airing. There is no way screw-top bottles can guarantee the same quality.
- Home made wine and bottled wine are essentially two different substances. If you are used to bottled wine, you are very likely to find homemade wine undrinkable. It is much less refined and the taste of grapes is very strong. Bottled wine is filtered, treated, cured. It’s really a different product. Usually the people who are used to drinking their own wine will hate bottled wine and viceversa.
- Up until not long ago, drinking wine was considered inappropriate for a young woman. Older women might have a sip at lunch or dinner. Wine was considered a men’s drink.
- Children are allowed to taste wine from the time they are very young. In fact, it is considered a totally acceptable practice. I have written about bread with red wine and sugar in the past, and to this day it still remains one of my favourite snacks from when I was a child. This does not make us a country of alcoholics.
- Many people do not like wine. Its strong taste is usually not very popular among the young ones and some women. My generation is not a generation of drinkers and in fact drinking in public or being seen drunk in public was a socio-cultural taboo up until a few years ago.
- We do not drink wine alone. Wine drinking is a sociable activity.
- Wine is the most classic gift when you are invited over for dinner. And the most classic mistake. Unless you know what the host is going to cook, avoid bringing wine because you might force them to serve a wine that doesn’t go well with the menu. If you want to bring wine to a dinner party, opt for prosecco, or spumante or a dessert wine which can be served as an aperitif or after dinner. Or if you want to bring regular wine, then opt for something special accompanying it with a card that lets the hosts know that it’s a present for them, and that it is not to be drunk there and then.
Italy Blogging Roundtable
This is a post in a monthly series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Here you can find the posts of the other bloggers who participate in the roundtable. Our topic this month was “wine“:
- Italy Explained – Wine Tasting in Italy
- ArtTrav – Brolio Castle: some wine with your history
- Brigolante – The Art of Drinking: Il Carapace
- Italofile – Will Work For Wine: Luca Signorelli’s Orvieto Duomo Contract and His Intoxicating, Apocalyptic Fresco Cycle
- Driving like a maniac – On weddings and (too much) wine
- Bleeding Espresso – La Vendemmia in Calabria