In Italy wine exists primarily to turn everyday meals and family get togethers into pleasurable social occasions.
Wine is part of the cultural fabric of Italian life. It goes on the table along with the salt, pepper and olive oil and is made to be drunk with food. This means that the flavours of Italian wine are often both more subtle and more demanding than those of wines from countries where the link between food and wine is less strong.
Just as there is hardly any such thing as ‘Italian' cooking, the wines of Italy are intensely regional. Vine growing echoes the North / South divide, though largely for climatic reasons. Wines from a delimited region are designated Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC). Most Doc wine, which accounts for about one in every eight bottles produced in Italy is produced north of Rome.
As one travels south the grape varieties and the tastes become increasingly exotic. Italy grows more grape varieties and makes more wine (nearly a fifth of the world's total) than any other country. Not all of it good, but much of it exciting.

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