Last month, we shared our wine map of Italy where you could see what kind of wines came from which regions. For national wine day, we’re going to focus on one of our favorite regions: Sicily.
According to Greek myth, it was Dionysus who brought the grape vine to Sicily. The island has been a fertile growing ground for grapes since ancient times. Many of the grapes varieties taken for granted as native were actually brought by Phoenicians. Sicilian viniculture was expanded by the Greeks and Romans, went through periods of low production, and brought back to full force in the 18th century.
Today, Sicily produces some of the best liqueurs, grappa, moscato, and (perhaps most notably) Marsala. We will focus on four of the most common wine grapes grown in the region now.
This variety is considered indigenous and is often referred to as the most important wine grape in Sicily. The vines like a hot, dry climates and produce a hearty, dark red fruit. It’s often compared to Syrah, producing a fruity, full-bodied, dry ruby red wine.
It is now grown almost every corner of the world from California to Malta, Turkey, and South Africa.
Pairs well with autumn and winter dishes that include red meats and hearty stews.
The luscious white grapes of Catarratto produces a full-bodied white wine with notes of citrus. It’s often used in as the main grape in local wines like Alcamo, Marsala, Menfi, Santa Margherita di Belìce.
Pairs well with warm summer afternoons, seafood, grilled vegetables, and soft cheeses looking for a bright, acidic counterpoint.
A widely-used white grape variety is used to make Marsala. It also goes by the name Riddu or Rossese bianco. The notes can change depending on the winemaking process, but it is typically bright with citrus like grapefruit and lemon or fruit like apples.
Pairs well as a versatile addition to meals including white meat poultry, cheeses, pasta, and spring risottos.
In Tuscany, they call the fruit Ansonica. In western Sicily, it is known as Inzolia and distinguished by its nutty and citrus notes. While it’s primarily used to make bright, crisp, dry whites, it can also be used to produce the popular fortified Marsala wine.
Pairs well with hearty risottos, steamed shellfish with butter sauce, and sushi.