When talking about wine and Italy, Tuscany is the first region that comes to mind. With its gentle hills covered by vineyards, streets bordered by cypresses and tons of enchanting villages with little bars and restaurants, this region offers one of Italy’s wider wine varieties. However, people from Tuscany do not only drink wine, they smell, eat, experience, and are raised by wine.
Here is why.
They are raised with Pane, vino e zucchero
Not everyone in Tuscany drinks alcohol, but even those who don’t have been raised with wine-based, delicious desserts. When coming home from school as small children, grandparents would take a wide slice of bread – rigorously salt-free – dip in red wine, and cover it with a lot of sugar. We know what you are thinking – “oh my god, wine to children?” We assure you that kids absolutely adore it – and the amount of wine on it is small. A delicious alternative is Pan con l’Uva, a cake that you can find in the Fall during harvest time – made only with flour, sugar, rosemary, oil and grapes. Last but not the least, one of the most common desserts that you can find on almost every Tuscan menu: Cantuccini con il Vin Santo, typical almond biscuits served and eaten with Vin Santo. Not everyone knows that the original ones were invented in Prato by Biscottificio Mattei, a few miles away from Florence, a place we strongly suggest to visit. Follow the smell and you’ll find their original factory in the center of the city, you can’t miss it!
Throughout the years, wine has also been used in several food preparations and is the basis for many traditional Tuscan recipes. One among all: the typical Peposo, first invented to fuel workers while building the Florentine Brunelleschi Dome. It is made cooking meat with pepper, salt and wine in terracotta pots – legend has it that also Brunelleschi himself loved it. If you want to make a feast of Peposo, visit the village of Impruneta, in the municipality of Florence on the first week of September. There, you can attend the culinary competition between the city’s rioni – neighborhoods – and find out who prepares the best one. A wild experience.
They experience wine
If you want to try a once-in-a-lifetime experience, go into a Tuscan farm and help the team with the harvest. Many wineries in the area let people help them collect grapes. We can’t say it isn’t tiring – but nothing beats ending the day with the satisfaction of having helped in such a unique process. And obviously, with a rich lunch with tons of glasses of wine. If you are looking for a more relaxing experience, try one of the several picnics or dinners that wineries all over Tuscany organize during the summer. You will be able to dine in an outstanding location under the stars – but bring insect repellent!
Helping with the harvest
Tenuta Torciano (San Gimignano)
Buccia Nera (Arezzo)
Ristorante Alessandro (Pistoia)
Lamole di Lamole (Greve in Chianti)
They have the best wineries
Well, now that we have spoken about everything else, let’s speak about where to taste some great wines. Selecting the best wineries in Tuscany is a challenge. That’s why I’ll suggest my favorite ones based on different themes.
Passionate about architecture?
Antinori Chianti Classico
When you take the street that brings you from Florence to Siena, you can’t unsee it. Open since October 2012, Antinori in Chianti Classico has a one-of-a-kind structure, perfectly blended into the territory, built with locally sourced materials, and respectful of the Tuscan landscape. Here you can taste the best wines from Chianti Classico’s most typical grapes – Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo. These wine represent Antinori, a globally famous family of wine producers whose wines date back to the 1300’s. For an unforgettable experience, try their wine tasting in the suspended wine cellar, overlooking the ageing wine barrels
Passionate about Art?
Castello di Ama
Located in an Etruscan village near Siena, this winery was born in the seventies, and throughout the years has been turned in an art gallery. The owners call several artists every year and ask them to create and exhibit works of contemporary art in their property. The result is an incredible blend of wine and masterpieces, immersed in an enchanting and historical place. After a visit, eat at their restaurant – once the place where harvest workers had their lunch break, still offering the same traditional recipes – and try their best wines: L’Apparita and Castello di Ama Chianti Classico.
Would you like to smell the sea?
Located in the prestigious Bolgheri DOC, in the south of the Region, this winery takes its name from the Etruscan silver mines located in the area. Tenuta Argentiera includes a variety of vistas combining coast and hills from where you can have outstanding views of the Tuscan Coast and islands. Try their Bolgheri Superiore Argentiera and Ophelia Maria – and don’t forget to take a dip into the crystal-clear sea after a delicious lunch and maybe even a couple of pictures in the iconic Viale dei Cipressi.
They sell wine everywhere – Buchette del vino are a real thing
Wine in Tuscany is a serious business, and people have always found the most creative ways to sell their wine. Walking around Florence you may have seen many strange “holes” in the buildings, some of them now sealed off, each with a different architectural style. In the 1500s wine was sold directly to clients through these holes. The Buchette del Vino helped reach a broader number of clients while respecting their privacy. Today you can find plenty of walking tours that will show you the more than 170 Buchette in Florence. More good news, a restaurant in Florence has begun selling wine from a Buchetta again: “Babae”, located in Santo Sprito neighborhood, has decided to restart the tradition. Just be ready to become a little “brillo”, because, you know, one glass of wine from the Buchetta leads to another…