Take a taste trip across the Mediterranean with a glass or two from this collection of sunny, summery wines.
When we daydream about the ideal setting, many of us conjure up warm sun, gorgeous scenery, delicious cuisine, and a lovely glass of wine. In some parts of the world this fantasy is a reality almost all year round, right down to the glassful of locally grown grape-derived glory. We’ve selected a few fruit-forward, summer-perfect favourites from wine regions of the Mediterranean to bring paradise to you.
At the southernmost point of the Italian Peninsula, where it dips its toe into the heart of the Mediterranean Sea itself, is where you’ll find Calabria. Shaped by coastlines and interior mountains and lakes, this was the setting of some of Homer’s epic tales and houses some of Italy’s most stunning beaches and historic architecture, including an 11th-century Romanesque-Gothic cathedral. Bold red wines made from the region’s local grapes go beautifully with barbecued pizza, particularly those featuring caramelized red onions, which are a local specialty.
Across the Strait of Messina from Calabria is the island of Sicily. Immortalized in classic film scenes from The Godfather, it’s home to Baroque cathedrals carved from red sandstone as well as rich, ripe red wines, the latter a nice pairing for pasta alla Norma with tomatoes, eggplant and garlic. Midway up the Italian mainland coast is Tuscany, famed equally for its picturesque villas (as featured in Under the Tuscan Sun) and its elegant red wines, which are wonderful partners for pasta Bolognese or steak Florentine.
The classic Mediterranean climate makes for ripe, sunny fruit, which in turn makes for ripe, sunny wines. Red wines made in these regions famously feature ripe fruit flavours and, depending on the grapes used and winemaker style, can range from velvety soft to boldly structured. Grapes for white and rosé wines are typically picked early so the wines retain their natural crispness and brightness while still exhibiting ripe, sunny fruit.
Known colloquially in French as Midi, the South of France is synonymous with sunshine. Indeed, one can hardly think of the Mediterranean without picturing Provence and its romantic seaside villages and sandy beaches along the French Riviera. The inspiration for masterpieces by Cézanne, van Gogh, Renoir and Matisse, this region is also home to vinous virtuosity – especially its seriously seductive rosé wines, which pair wonderfully with salade niçoise, ratatouille or grilled seafood.
To the west along the coast of Southern France is Occitanie, the southernmost region of mainland France, with its component territories of Languedoc and Roussillon. This vast, sprawling region stretches from the Mediterranean coast up into central France and is home to Toulouse, whose 240 kilometres of picturesque canals centre around the Canal du Midi, built in 1667 under the auspices of Louis XIV. It’s also home to a range of wine styles, including soft, generously fruity red wines that go equally well with charcuterie platters or grilled Toulouse sausages.
Compared with cooler regions, which can be subject to highly unpredictable vintage variation, Mediterranean climates typically experience remarkably reliable sunshine and warm weather. This means the wines are more consistent (and, depending on the grape and the style, more reliably ripe and fruit-forward) year after year.
Although most of Spain’s best-known wine regions are not directly adjacent to the sea, they do feel the effects of the Mediterranean and its eponymous climate. Just south of the French border in Spain’s northeast is Aragón, with its surging rivers, soaring Pyrenees peaks and medieval monuments. The local red wines here are classic pairings for lamb chilindrón, as well as grilled beef or lamb burgers.
Due east of this region is Ribera del Duero, situated along its namesake river near the foothills of the Sierra de la Demanda and Sierra de Guadarrama mountain ranges. Here, the historic town of Aranda de Duero houses a series of antique underground cellars used to store the wines of yesteryear. Ribera’s bold, stylish red wines of today are perfect for sizzling steaks. Travelling northwest of Ribera del Duero or eastward of Aragón along the Ebro River brings you to Rioja, where historic monasteries and cathedrals create a backdrop to Spain’s most famous wines. The region’s complex, smoky reds and sunny rosés are outstanding with chorizo.
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