Sicilian Wines  

I vini Siciliani 

 

Wine has been a Sicilian habitual drink since pre-historical times. Beside wine other well-known Sicilian alcoholic beverages are the dessert wines like Marsala, a fortified wine produced in the homonym town, Malvasia di Lipari produced in the Aeolian Islands and Moscato made in Pantelleria with dried grapes. The Florio, Pellegrino, Rallo and other historical wineries produce vintage Marsala of the highest quality and an assortment of flavored dessert wines like Sicilian Gold, Marsala Superiore or Marsala Vergine Soleras.  

 

Since childhood a small quantity of wine mixed with water was given to me to drink with the meals. Today it would be scandalous, but for sure it did not have any side effects or negative consequences to my growing-up. 
In my paternal home the wine we drank was either white or red, without today’s sophistications of the Pinots, Cabernets and the other varietal wines.  For the children, wine mixed with seltzer was the closest that we got to the real Asti Spumante, the Italian version of 
Champagne

During the Spanish occupation, sangria was introduced in Palermo; originally made with white or red wine, fruit juices, assorted fresh fruits and brandy, in Palermo it became  u caliciotto, a beverage made only with red wine, peaches and lemon or orange gassosa, soda.  

In the late fifties it was fashionable to add to the caliciotto some beer and Marsala wine and it became u poncio, the Sicilian makeover of punch.  

 

In most of Sicily, with few exceptions, taverns were the places where wine was sold to take out, but lately many taverns became wine bars, where the wine aficionados – and it seems to me that everybody has became a wine expert – can enjoy a glass of Chateauneuf- du- Pape, a Chardonnay, a Cote du Rhone, a glass of Dom Perignon or some other exotic wine.

 

In the entire Sicilian Island, wines of the best quality are produced in such large quantities that the strong Sicilian wines are exported to the Continente, the Italian peninsula, to reinforce the Veronese, Tuscans or the Piedmonts wines and to Franceto give body to their light wines. 

 

 
Many varietal wines are produced in 
Sicily, each with its specific and unique characteristics and taste.     

The new and old Sicilian wineries produce varietals and blended wines.

In the western part of Sicily white wines are mostly produced. The grapes Catarratto, Inzolia, Grillo, Grecanico, Chardonnay and Trebbiano are grown in this area and first-rate wine is produced and bottled as varietals or proprietary wine.

 

 

Red wines are mostly produced in the southern and eastern parts of Sicily.     

 

In the Eastern part of the Island, and around Vittoria the most common grapes cultivated are the Frappato, Nerello Mascalese, Grosso Nero, Merlot, Sangiovese and Nero di Avola. We have dedicated a chapter to the wines produced in the Vittoriese.  

 Nero di Avola

In the south-east part of the Island, the Nero di Avola is grown in a big scale and the wine produced is a fully-bodied red with fruit and herb flavors; it is a likeable wine for the low tannin contained.  

Albanello, Eloro bianco and rosso are also grown in this region. 

 

Etna Rosso is a wine produced from grapes cultivated in the slopes of Mount Etna- the mountain also known as Mungibeddu- and in the plane of Catania; the Etna Rosso is a blend of Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese, grapes that originated in and around Mascali, a village located between Catania and Taormina.  

Etna Rosso wine is characterized by the method of fermentation monolithic which is used in the production of this wine. This technique gives the possibility to achieve a hearty wine with soft accents of acidity and with unique and delicate aroma. 

Etna Bianco is a blend of Carricante, Catarratto, Grecanico, Inzolia and Minnella grapes. It is a lovely and elegant wine, full bodied and pleasant tasting. 

 

From the extreme eastern corner of Sicily, not far from the Etna in the province of Messina, the D.O.C. Faro wines are produced in small quantities. These wines are elegant, refreshing and tasteful. As per the other wines produced in the area Faro wine is a blend of Nerello Cappuccio, Nerello Mascalese and a small amount of Nocera grapes. 

 

A variety of dessert wines are produced in Sicily

Marsala wine is Italy’s most famous fortified wine. It is produced in Marsala, near Trapani, in large quantities and exported all over the word. This dessert wine is used as an aperitif, in cooking, to compliment desserts and indispensable to make zabaglione.  

Passito di Pantelleria is made in the homonymous island by fermenting Zibbibo grapes, dried by the sun to increase the sugar concentration and alcohol content in order to achieve a sweet, delicate fruity and fresh tasting wine. It is also known as Moscato di Pantelleria.    

Passito di Noto is a light, delicate amber colored dessert wine produced with dried grapes and it is naturally fermented. This Passito has a luxurious flavor of honey and the aroma of fresh fruits and vanilla.  

Malvasia is a wine produced in the Aeolian island of Lipari. A light and dry type, it is used as an aperitif or consumed during a meal; the sweet variety is served exclusively with dessert. The Passito di Lipari is made with grapes dried by the sun and has an alcohol level of 18%. The Liquoroso is a passito fortified with spirits to increase the alcohol level to 20%. 

 

 Wine Pairing  

Vigneto 

 

Wine pairing is an important component that can make your dinner a winner and show your guests how much you care to be a perfect hostess. 

In general a formal meal on Sicilian tables consists of a pasta dish, a main course with salad and vegetables, fruits and dessert. 

The main course is either meat or fish. Fish is common fare in costal areas; meats are liked all over the Island however small game is preferred in the hinterland. Pairing Sicilian wines with a meal is not very hard for the large variety of wines available, although it requires some attention. 

An ideal choice is a wine that can be served before dinner as an aperitif and can pair the entire dinner.  

 

 A short account of the wine produced in Sicily

 

Corvo Bianco di Salaparuta is a harmonious and versatile white wine with lots of character. It is a perfect compliment to fish and shellfish.  

Catarratto: this varietal green-gold colored wine, with strong, fruits and spicy features is best paired with greens and seafood and even chicken.  

 Inzolia and Grillo wines are sugary and fruity, light and fragrant with citrus fruity notes, mostly used to make Marsala.  

Bianco di Alcamo an excellent white wine produced in the area around Alcamo, It is crispy and dry and pleasantly fresh. It is great with seafood. 

RegalealiBiancooffers notes of citrus fruits, a lively fullness of body and is crisp and refreshing.It is a sipping wine that also pairs well with appetizers and fish salads.  

Corvo di Salaparuta, ruby red wine, is made with Nero di Avola, Nerello Mascalese and Pignatello grapes; it is a selected and acceptable wine for grilled meat, roasts and young cheeses. It is dry, well balanced and rich with aroma of sour cherries; an elegant wine with good taste and round tannins.   

Rosso D’Alcamo DOC is made with 60% of Nero di Avola, and a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet and other grapes: it offers flavors of berries and cherries, along with hints of spices and herbs. The alcohol content is under 12 per cent, which makes this medium bodied red wine a pleasure to drink and an ideal companion to grilled pork, lamb, chicken and wethers 

Regaleali makes a Nero di Avola recommended with grilled meats, spicy and aged cheeses or game. It is an intensive ruby red wine, with a delicate bouquet; it is dry with silky tannins and a long finish.  

Rosso Del Conte, special reserve wine was created by count Giuseppe Tasca d’Almerita in the Regaleali estate; it is aged in wood casks. It is a well balanced wine, medium bodied with red cherry color and flavored with notes of vanilla, cherries, mint and tobacco; it pairs with hearty meals, stews and aged cheeses. 

Etna Rosso is a wine produced in the slopes of Mount Etna; a hearty wine with unique and delicate aromas, with soft accents of tannin, making it an ideal wine to pair with strong tasting cheeses, hearty sauces, stews, sausages or grilled meats.    

Etna Rosso wine is distinguished for its rich aroma of dry fruits and spices, and for its palate of ripe red fruits, chocolate and flavors of earth.  

Faro Rosso DOCis produced in small quantities at the foot of the Etna in the province of Messina, it is an elegant wine, refreshing and tasteful. Pairs with light meats, cheeses, red sauces and vegetables; the ideal match for Pasta alla Norma. 

Cerasuolo di Vittoria was produced for the first time around the time in which the village of Vittoria was established, by blending Frappato and Nero di Avola and small quantities of Nerello Mascalese and Grosso Nero.  

This exceptionally smooth and balanced wine, offers aroma of ripe fruits and hints of Mediterranean herbs; it is called Cerasuolo, from “cerase” (Sicilian for cherry) for the intense red color similar to the cherries. Enjoy this wine with your favorite pasta, veal, rabbit, pork or grilled meats and strong tasting cheeses.  

Nero di Avola wine marries well with grilled meat, pasta in red sauces, hearty game, meat dishes or strong flavored cheeses. This medium bodied wine is dry, robust and well balanced, it is dense in the mouth, offers an intriguing aroma of wild raspberries and black cherries with a light spicy finish.  

Frappato is a light bodied Sicilian wine with notes of strawberry and raspberry and hints of herbs, black tea and minerals.   

This smooth and silky wine makes it an easy drinking choice to enjoy as an aperitif or to pair with cheeses, salads, grilled meats or vegetables and fish.    

Merlot Sicilia- Tenuta Principi di Butera- Caltanissetta. Splendid red pomegranate color wine with notes of cherries, cassis, and mulberries blended with the pleasant aroma of vanilla. The taste of raspberries and spices and the light tannin on the finish, makes this soft and medium bodied wine a good choice to match with duck, chicken, pork, pasta dishes or mixed grilled meats 

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