History of Italien wines

"No poem was ever written by a drinker of water," said the great Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus 27 BC.
Italy is home to some of the oldest wine regions in the world and it is one of the world`s foremost producers, responsible for approximately one-fifth of world wine production of nowadays. Grapes are grown in almost every part of Italy, with more than 1 million vineyards under cultivation. Most winemaking in Italy is done in modern wineries, but villagers, making wine for their own use, sometimes tread the grapes with their bare feet until the juice is squeezed out. They believe this ancient method still makes the best wine. The people of each region are proud of the wine they make from their own grapes. As far as generalizations can be made, Italian wines tend to be acidic, dry, light-to-medium bodied, and subdued in flavor and aroma. Because of these characteristics, Italian wines are, in general, a better accompaniment to food than they are beverages to be enjoyed on their own.

The Greeks, who settled in southern Italy and Sicily, exported the art of wine-growing to Italy. They were so impressed with the mild Italian climate which was perfect for producing wines that they called Italy, Oenotria, or the land of trained vines. The Etruscans, who settled in central Italy, also produced wines and started developing their own vineyards. During the second century BC Roman defeat of the Carthaginians, who were known as the masters of wine-making, Italian wine production began to further flourish. During this time, viticulture outside of Italy was prohibited under Roman law. Exports to the provinces were reciprocated in exchange for more slaves, especially from Gaul where trade was intense, according to Pliny, due to the inhabitants being besotted with Italian wine, drinking it unmixed and without restraint. Roman wines contained more alcohol and were generally more powerful than modern fine wines. It was customary to mix wine with a good proportion of water which may otherwise have been unpalatable, making wine drinking a fundamental part of early Italian life. Later the Romans exhibited good taste by deciding that aged wines tasted better and preferred wines that were ten to twenty-five years old. They discovered that wines which were kept in tightly closed containers improved with age and became the first to store it in wooden barrels. They may also have been the first to use glass jars and they also used corks.

Large-scale, slave-run plantations sprang up in many coastal areas and spread to such an extent that, in AD 92, emperor Domitianus was forced to destroy a great number of vineyards in order to free up fertile land for food production. Roman wine-growing was prolific and well-organized, pioneering large-scale production and storage techniques like barrel-making and bottling. As the laws on provincial viticulture were relaxed, vast vineyards began to flourish in the rest of Europe, especially Gaul present day France and Hispania. The Romans exported their excellent wine-growing techniques and these were not changed for centuries. But demand for wine decreased with the fall of the Roman Empire. Surprisingly Roman Catholic monks continued to produce wine during the Dark Ages but it only became popular again during the Renaissance. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Italian wine was often criticized for its poor quality and the government decided that steps had to be taken. DOCG or new wine regulations were introduced to improved the quality of the wine. Today Italian wines are considered by critics to be amongst the best in the world.