The Italian wine industry is really big business these days. Not only are more people than ever before purchasing wines from Italian producers, which has made Italy the single largest wine producing country in the world, but thousands upon thousands flock to Italy to engage in a little wine tourism, during which they have the opportunity to sample some of their favourite vintages while also learning more about the people behind the wines that they love so much.
So what if you are new to game? What if you have never been a wine tourist before and you want to make sure you have everything you need to make the most out of the experience.
Fear not! Your friends at Xtrawine are here with a few useful tips that will ensure you enjoy your wine tourism trip to the absolute maximum and come away more informed, happy, and absolutely dying to come back and see more.
Hire a Car
Sure, you can learn an awful lot from just going to a single winery and spending a day there, but if you really want to make a week away special you will need to be able to get from one producer to the next. As most producers are located in rural areas, you will often find that public transport options aren’t quite up to snuff, which means you need to find your own transportation. Instead of opting to go on a package wine tour, which limits you freedom somewhat, consider hiring a car for yourself so you can tour the Italian countryside and stop off at some wineries whenever you feel like it. The only problem you are going to have is finding somebody who is willing to be the designated driver.
Never Be Afraid to Ask
The great Italian wine producers have enormous passion for their wines, which means they are always happy to provide as much information as you want about them. With that in mind, don’t feel like you need to limit yourself only to what they present during a tour. Ask questions often and really explore the minds of the men and women who make the entire Italian wine industry possible. You will learn a whole lot more about the wines that you love and you may even find that you forge bonds with producers over your joint love of wine.
Use a Guidebook
While there is certainly some romanticism attached to hiring a car and getting lost in the Italian countryside while searching for wineries, we really do recommend that you buy a guidebook if you want to see as much as possible during your trip. Use your book to locate the wineries that you absolutely have to visit and you should be able to map out a schedule that ensures you see as many of them as possible, while spending less time driving around on roads that you don’t recognize.
Always Arrive Early
The weekends and peak tourism periods will see a lot of the most popular wineries become extremely busy, meaning you don’t get as much access to the people that make the place great in the first place. To make the most of your time, consider turning up as early as possible to any wineries that you really want to learn more about. This will give you some time to mingle with people at the bar while also allowing you to really pick the brains of tour guides and producers without having to worry about getting moved along to make space for other visitors.
Have you ever tasted a wine and fallen in love with it, only to find that you have forgotten the name once you come to buy it again? That can happen just as easily on a wine trip, especially if you get introduced to wines that you have never tried before. It always helps to have a notebook to hand so you can jot down notes about any of the wines you really like, allowing you to find the vintage later in addition to researching others that have the same qualities.
Always Dine Out
The best thing about wine tourism is that the wines you discover during your tours are often to be found at the local restaurants too. Best of all, this dining establishments will understand, perhaps better than anybody else, the exact types of food that complement the wine. The point we’re making here is that you should dine out often and learn as much as you can about the wine beyond the wine itself. Go to restaurants, eat what the locals eat, and take any opportunity you have to get recipes so you can take these dishes back home with you. If you’re feeling a little lost, don’t be afraid to ask the locals. You will find that Italian people are among the most welcoming around and most will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Always Be Polite
Experienced wine tourists will tell you that it truly is remarkable just how impolite some people can be when they are on vacation. Don’t be that person. Instead, make sure you treat the wineries, the people who run then, and your fellow vacationers with respect at all times. Not only does this mean you won’t end up annoying people, but you will also find the locals much more welcoming if you treat them well.
Take Your Time
Yes, you may have a lot of wineries that you want to visit and time is always limited, but if you rush from one place to the next you aren’t going to be able to enjoy the full experience. Think of it like going to a museum. If you rush you may get a glance of all of the exhibits, but you aren’t going to learn anything about them or appreciate them. The same rings true at a winery so slow down, appreciate your surroundings, and try to learn as much as you can during your visit.