Tuscany wine help

by Samuele Sodini

Ok, going on talking about Tuscany and Wine…

As you know I’m from this region so what can I do for you today? Easy, try to help you discovering any kind of information about Tuscany wine that I consider helpful for your trip, holiday or visit you will have here in Tuscany. So, dear Friends, feel free to be in touch with me asking all that you need to know about this beautiful region… No one knows Tuscany like me!

Tuscany is one of the most romantic and culturally vibrant wine regions in the world. After all, it was in Florence that the Renaissance was born and the place is still a haven for all sorts of artisans, from the sculpturer to the winemaker. Tuscany is packed with endless villages and hill towns that seem untouched by time. The country roads, by now mostly paved, are twisting and more suited to horses and scooters than to smart cars. No road even resembles a straight line. Signs are many, so a good advice is to go very slowly and pay attention to signs that may indicate anything from towns to museums and wineries. Indispensable even for an Italian is a good detailed road map.

Wine estates vary immensely in size, from tiny family run farms to colossal wineries owned by coops. Whether large or small, a Tuscan winery is almost always a challenge to find. Sometimes there are no signs or street addresses on the properties themselves. You simply have to zigzag around a “comune” (township) and with a little luck (or by asking for directions, which is not a guarantee either) you will bump into the winery which is much likely to be found hidden at the end of a gravel road.

Useful info:

English is often spoken, but you shouldn’t expect it. If English is not spoken, you’ll normally get by with a little basic Italian or by signing – Italians are generally extremely helpful towards foreigners – and most wineries will have a brochure written in English.

Some wineries have small shops where you can just pop in and buy the estate’s wine, as well as extra virgin olive oil. These are usually signed with the words: “Vendita Diretta”.

Wine tastings are either free (but then you are expected to buy) or offered at a fee which can vary from winery to winery. Some do organized tastings and tours, but you should inform yourself before going as you normally will have to book.

Bigger wineries that have a shop/reception room are open to the public and you can walk in at any time during the day. Most places close during lunch, so from 1 – 3 pm, so relax and go and have lunch.

And a lot of wineries require that you phone to make an appointment or let them know that you are coming.

To know where to go and which wineries you can visit – and when, it might be useful to pay a visit to the Consorzio of the area first to get maps, directions and guidance on wineries to visit (see the Links page).

Very few wineries do not accept visitors, but bear in mind that it is possible and not because the winery is hostile to foreigners!

If you don’t have a lot of time to visit the wine country, a good idea might be to work out a tour with a specialized company that will take care of the necessary appointments in the wineries.

If you are going to Tuscany, but you are not going into the wine regions for some reason, a good idea might be to visit one of the many Enoteca’s (wine bars/shops) in the bigger towns. Many have wines by the glass to try and a wine expert (sommelier) available to explain the wines. Often you can have crostini (toasted bread with toppings), local Pecorino cheeses and selected cured meats to accompany a wine. The most famous Enoteca in Italy is placed in the Medici Fortress in Siena, Enoteca Italiana, and is definitely worth a visit.

Last but not least, a word on “drinking and driving” in Italy. Remember that it is no different from home – no more than 1 unit before you drive, even though controls are scarce. But the roads are windy and the pace of traffic very different in Italy. So make sure to “taste and spit” or choose a designated driver for the day.

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