Rome is eternal. Tuscany is terrific. But there is a lot more to Italy, and every region has its trademark wines.
Picture yourself in the Pulia region, a long peninsula at the southeast tip of Italy between the Adriatic and Ionian seas. If Italy is shaped like a boot, Pulia is its heel.
Imagine an outdoor cafe in a small town of sun-blasted, whitewashed buildings, with sandy beaches stretching to the sea. Lunch arrives — antipasto platters of boiled octopus, raw calamari, tomato bruschetta, then a “second plate” of pasta with rabbit sauce and finally, the main course of skewered lamb, sausage and veal.
Taste the potent, inky reds they serve with them. These wines, from the Salento province in southernmost Pulia, are from native Italian varietals including negroamaro, primitivo and aleatico.
Next day, picture yourself in a bustling trattoria in the shadow of the cathedral in the ancient city of Assisi in Umbria, southeast of Florence and Tuscany. Winemaking here dates back to Roman times, and the sagrantino grape was born here, probably a natural cross of other local red grapes.
The waiter brings you a two-pound T-bone steak, and proudly pours the region’s locally famous red, Sagrantino di Montefalco, with all the tannin and heft to handle the well-marbled beef.
No trans-Atlantic travel in your future? Here’s help trying those matches at home.