By Wink Lorch
For anyone who loves beautiful countryside, art, history, architecture, and perhaps above all wholesome food and wine, Tuscany in Italy is a legendary region to visit. I’m really excited to have cajoled Michèle Shah, a top writer on Italian wines, food and travel to contribute to Wine Travel Guides and we have just launched her first two on-line travel guides to Tuscan wine regions which are also our first guides to wine regions outside of France.
The area between San Gimignano and Siena is home to so many sensational wine producers that I don’t quite know how Michèle managed to narrow down her Chianti Classico and Vernaccia di San Gimignano selection. The restaurants and bars sound mouth-watering and the places to stay she has chosen range between homely and sheer luxury.
As for Montalcino and Montepulciano, home to the Sangiovese grape, the basis for nearly all the great Tuscan red wines, the guide gives all you need to plan a really interesting wine tour in this fascinating area.
If you are not yet a subscriber to Wine Travel Guides and you are planning a visit to Tuscany, now is the time to remedy this to get access to these wonderful guides.
Michèle lives in Florence and really understands the culture of Tuscan food and wine. In editing her guides, I couldn’t quite include all her words of wisdom, but saved this to share with you:
Salt-free bread is a pillar of the Tuscan diet. There are several theories on why Tuscan bread is salt-free, the most common being that its food is so rich in flavour that bread becomes a necessary accompaniment to hearty meat dishes. It is also used to thicken soups such as ribollita and pappa al pomodoro, and grilled to make bruschetta, drizzled with tangy local olive oil. Tuscan crostini, traditionally made with a chicken liver paté mixture, need a neutral base to enhance the flavours of their toppings. In summer stale Tuscan bread is the main ingredient used in panzanella salad mixed in with freshly cut vegetables, herbs and a tasty dressing – simple and delicious – just try it!
Tuscany’s hunting heritage provides for all the roast meats and game which still play a fundamental part in their traditional and more formal cuisine – at times evocative of medieval banquets. It’s all complemented by the archetypal Sangiovese-based red wines and by white Vernaccia, often enjoyed as an aperitif.