Coming from Napa area in California, I arrived in Rome with high hopes and expectations. Raised around some of the finest wines, I was still very excited to try the wine in Italy. At first, I was disappointed. It is not easy to go into a supermarket and choose a bottle of wine in a foreign language. It is also not easy to choose a bottle or glass of wine from restaurant wine lists. Some restaurants and wine bars have menus that are almost the same size as the bible. If your Italian is anything like mine was, and you get around saying “ciao, arrivederci, pizza, scuzi, and grazie”, good luck. Fortunately, after many weeks of struggling, I found some Roman friends.
Unfortunately, if you are only coming to Rome for a couple of days it is hard to find Italian friends. Luckily, I am your new best friend, and I am here to steer you in the right direction. First off, Do NOT be afraid of the vino della casa (house wine) when you are visiting an osteria, trattoria or ristorante. Drink the table wine; it is cheap. The restaurant itself may even produce it. Many Roman restaurants have been around for many generations. More often than not they have little farms outside of city center, which produce for meals. Sometimes they even supply the grapes for the wine, and olives for olive oil.
After choosing the house wine, there is still one more decision to be made. White or Red? The right wine can enhance a dish to perfection. For fish, seafood, chicken, duck quail, or light olive oil based pasta, a white house wine should be more pleasant. When ordering tomato-based meals, big game, or spicy foods, a red wine is usually more complementary.
If you have a sophisticated appreciation for wine and would like to sample sophisticated wine, make your way to a wine bar. It is nearly impossible to focus on the wine you are having with dinner when you are having Italian food. When your plate arrives, your eyes begin to bulge out of their sockets; nothing else matters in the world. If you would rather sit and order regional wines by the glass with snacks and small finger foods, look for enoteche. Relaxed and full of ambience and good wine, these are lovely spots for light and inexpensive lunches; perfect to educate your palate and recharge your batteries.
Join a Rome wine tasting or wine tours outside Rome with When in Rome Tours, a real treat for connoisseurs of Italian food and wine. Several wines from around Italy are served with many choices of cheese and meat from local farms. Roman wine tasting at it’s finest.