Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Wines of Tuscany

Tuscany is probably the Italian wine region that is best known among American drinkers. Hundreds of raffia-covered fiascos (you know what I'm talking about--the bottles that you use for candle holders when the wine is all gone) have entered hundreds of homes all over the country. (picture by dottorpeni)

But there's more to Tuscan wine than just Chianti. For the last two months of 2008 I'll be focusing on the wines from this region. Why two months? There's just too much good wine to spend only one month exploring.

Tuscany is a region that is known for more than wine, of course. Home to the great poet Dante, its also the region where Pisa's "leaning tower" is located. Pisa is not the only town in the region with stunning architecture, as any visitor to Florence, San Gimignano, or Siena knows. Rolling hills, groves of olive trees, fields of sunflowers and vines, and old houses dot the landscape as well, making Tuscany a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. (photo by vigour)

And the grapes of Tuscany are just as diverse as the countryside where they're planted. There's Sangiovese, of course, but there's also rarer indigenous varieties like Toroldega, Vernaccia, and Canaiolo. And Tuscan vineyards have their fare share of international grapes in them like Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon, too. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are often blended with Sangiovese in the powerful red wines known as Super Tuscans that earn high scores from the wine magazines and command high prices in the wine shops. (photo by rayced)

Great wine demands great food, and as anyone who has been to Tuscany knows--these people can cook. Whether you're looking for a simple pasta dish with sauce made from butter and sage, a hearty soup thickened with bread and beans, grilled beef cooked to perfection as they do in Florence, or the small cookies made for dunking in your coffee or wine called cantucci, you can find a dish to suit you from among the region's traditional recipes. These dishes are perfect for winter temperatures and feeding large crowds at the holidays. Many of them are also either quick to prepare, or cook at low temperatures in the pot or oven so they are ideal for entertaining.

With so much to love about Tuscan food and wine, it seemed like the right moment to slow down and enjoy the end of the this year's wine journey through Italy. Those of you who have been following the series know that there are still regions I've not yet reached. So we'll pick up where we left off in January 2009 and continue to drink the wines from the remaining regions of Italy all through next year. (photo by davidanthonyporter)

I'll be back periodically over the next several weeks with tasting notes and food pairings for Tuscan wines. Yes, Chianti will be among them. So, too, will be Tuscan whites and a wine made with indigenous varieties. And the Tuscan wine theme will spill over into Serious Grape on Fridays as well, where I'll talk about Super Tuscans and compare the different levels of Chianti from the regular bottles to Chianti Classico and reserve wines. As always, I hope you will join in and share your Tuscan wine recommendations and experiences.


Orion Slayer said...

Hey, Dr. Deb, those fiascos are the rehydration method of choice among bicycle riders:


Anonymous said...

Wow Tuscan wine, that must taste absolutely amazing!

Tommaso said...

Non vedo l'ora!

Dr. Debs said...

Orion Slayer, you made my day! And Tommaso, mille grazie.

Anonymous said...

Finally some Tuscans
aspetto con curiosità