Wine is perhaps not the first thing that springs to mind in the floating, lagoon city Venice with its mass of winding canals and crumbling palazzi.
However, Venice is the capital of the Veneto, wine producing star of Italy. In Veneto, Italy, wine production is a major industry, for both domestic and international markets. Some wines from Veneto are extremely well-known outside Italy, gracing the supermarket shelves and wine bar lists of the world. Veneto red wine Valpolicella, made from local varieties Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Corvinone, is produced in similar quantities to its Tuscan cousin Chianti, and its air-dried dry versions Amarone della Valpolicella and sweet Recioto della Valpolicella are placed high on the sought after Veneto wines list. Other red wines of Veneto include fruity Bardolino from the shores of Lake Garda and berry-scented Marzemino, which also yields a lusciously sweet passito wine, Refrontolo. There is plenty more Veneto red wine less well-known outside Italy, such as wines produced from Schiava, Raboso and Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso as well as a host of reds from international varieties like Merlot, Pinot Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. In fact, Merlot and Cabernet Franc have long been produced in the Veneto wine region and are in many ways considered local rather than international varieties.
Veneto white wine has surely been drunk by everyone at some time. Easy-drinking white wine from Veneto, such as Pinot Grigio or the more aromatic Soave based on the Garganega variety, is a familiar sight in bars and Italian restaurants everywhere. Crisp, fresh whites based on Trebbiano di Soave from the Lugana region stretching along the shore of Lake Garda are another international favourite. Bianca Custoza to the south-west of Verona uses Trebbiano Toscana, Garganega and Trebbianello (a biotype of Tocai Friulano) to produce its fresh whites. Another wine Veneto produces has achieved celebrity status – Prosecco has become the world’s sparkling wine of choice, recently overtaking global sales of Champagne, and is a key ingredient in the popular aperitif, Aperol Spritz, sipped alongside wine in Venice and almost everywhere else in Europe too.
The Veneto is also renowned for its sweet wines including white Recioto di Soave and red Recioto di Valpolicella as well as some well-kept secrets such as previously mentioned red Refrontolo (from the Marzemino variety), red Torcolato Breganze (from the local Vespaiola variety) and red Friularo di Bagnoli produced from Friularo, aka Raboso. Veneto also has a few aces up its sleeve with its sweet whites – Moscato Fiori d’Arancio dei Colli Euganei (Moscato Giallo), Gambellara (Garganega) and Torchiato Fregona, a raisiny wine produced from Glera of Prosecco fame, Verdisio and Boschera.
You may think you knew the wines of Veneto, but as you can see, there are still plenty of hidden gems to be found as you wander the streets of Venice, sampling wine in the bacari, local wine bars, or heading out to the vineyards of La Serenissima’s hinterland. And if you want to sample a truly special wine from Venice, a real Venetian wine, you should sail off into the lagoon and seek out the island of Mazzorbo, a small island connected to Burano by an ancient wooden bridge, ’Ponte Lungo’. After you have strolled around Burano’s brightly painted houses and admired the elderly ladies making lace, cross the bridge and go in search of the almost forgotten local variety Uva d’oro or dorona which has been planted here as part of the ’Venissa Project’. The Venissa vineyard, Venice’s only vineyard, now also includes a six-room hotel and a restaurant, is the ideal place to conclude your wine tour in Venice with a uniquely Venetian wine.
At Wine Paths, our team of local experts can help you uncover the wines hidden beneath Veneto wine’s more recognised façade.
If you're interested in one of our Veneto Wine Tours, please visit this link.
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