When in Rome, drink like the Romans do! While many people think of Tuscany when they think of Italian wines, the Lazio region has some excellent wine producers, too. Here are four local wines you will want to try out on your Roman vacation.
Wine Classification System
Before we dive into our list, let’s take a quick peek at the letters you will see on many wine bottles in Rome. Italy has its own classification system for wine. Learn these terms so that you can choose the perfect wine for the occasion.
- DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. This is the highest recognition that can be achieved, and few wines gain this distinction.
- DOC wine – Denominazione di Origine Controllata. The provenance of these wines is assured thanks to strict testing.
- IGT – Indicazione di Geografica Tipica. These wines are grown in specific geographical growing regions but do not undergo the testing required to gain DOC status.
- VdT – Vino Da Tavola. These are the least expensive wines and are typically house wines.
The name for this Italian white wine comes from the town of Frascati that is southeast of Rome. There has been cultivation of grapes in this area since the 5th century B.C. Evidence points to the preference of this wine in ancient Rome as well as by Renaissance Popes and visiting artists. Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia del Lazio, Grechetto, Bombino Bianco, and Trebbiano grapes make up Frascati. This one is really a must try when you are in Rome.
This uniquely named vintage is native to the commune of Montefiascone in the province of Viterbo in Lazio. It is a blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes with a spicy, nutty character to it. The legend behind the name dates to the 12th century. A bishop travelling to Rome sent a runner ahead to find an inn with good wine. He was told to write “est” (the Latin word for “it is”) on the door of the inn. The runner found the wine to be so exceptional that he wrote “Est Est Est” on the door. The exclamation points were a later addition. We are sure that you will find this wine just as exceptional!
Cesanese del Piglio grows in Rome and Frosinone in the Lazio region. This is a robust wine, and not for the meek. It is very well balanced, with a bitterness at the end. “It smells like the ichor of wild boars with powerful notes of cranberry sauce, sweet pomegranate, and plums,” according to Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly. If you love a hearty wine, this is definitely one to try when in Rome. You might even want to have some shipped home!
Red Cremere is a very local and harder to find wine. Terre del VeioIt is the small, local vineyard that makes this delicious vintage. It is in the Park of Veio near many ancient archaeological Etruscan finds and the grapes actually grow on truly ancient land. The vineyard is located in the oldest part of the area, and they have a cantina where you can enjoy their wines on site. While hard to find, we think it is definitely worth the hunt. Take a day trip to the vineyard to experience the wine firsthand.
After you have enjoyed the many historical sites that Rome has to offer, you can relax with one of these locally grown Roman wines. Want to bring a little Italy home? You might also want to try these Italian wines at your next tasting party. Alla salute! Cheers!