This post was sponsored by the Italian Trade Agency as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Valentine’s Day is here, do you have plans yet? If you don’t, then I have a fabulously romantic and delicious way to celebrate love with a date-night-in… Do as the Italians and celebrate “La Dolce Vita.” That’s right, take your valentine on a tour of Italy through their most famous wines, and learn a bit about the land while you’re at it. Here are my steps to putting together a romantic “La Dolce Vita” Valentine’s Day…
Step 1: Pick a Region
There are literally 20 different wine regions in Italy, each with it’s own high quality diversity of flavor and history. Each wine bottle tells a story of the region’s ancestry, rich culture, and long history that all contribute to superior taste. The country may have more than 3,000 varieties of grapes, of which 590 are officially recorded with hundreds left to be catalogued. That is more than any other country in the world. That is part of why Italian wine is so famous… the land is ideal for winemaking.
For my own Valentine date-night-in, I chose the Campania region. You may not have heard of Campania, representing only 3% of Italy’s wine production, but I’m sure you’ve heard of Pompeii. The Campania region is home to one of the most famous volcanic eruptions of all time, making its earth ideally fertile. Ancient Romans favored vineyards in this region, specifically along the north coast near Naples. This is where Falernian, the most popular Roman wine, was produced. The region’s history and land is literally seeping with history.
Other regions I would recommend exploring are Umbria and Veneto. Umbria is a great region to explore on Valentine’s Day, with such offerings of Chardonnay, Grechetto, Sagrantino, and Merlot. Meanwhile, Veneto accounts for almost 20% of Italian wine production, so you won’t have trouble finding delicious picks from the region like Prosecco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valpolicella, Soave Classico, and Pinot Bianco. So, pick a region or two to explore, learn a little bit about the area and what makes the vineyards there unique, and then head to the store to pick up some bottles.
Step 2: Pick a Variety
Red or white? Sparkling or still? Or a mix? Once you’ve decided on the Italian region, decide on what you and your valentine will be sampling. Italy has grapevines that exist in no other place in the world, with each region having its own identity and taste. Want something sweet for your sweetie? Then try a Moscato d’Asti. Need a wine to go with the romantic lamb chop dinner you’re preparing? Then pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir from the Otrepo region in Lombardy. Do you want a hard-to-find variety for your one-of-a-kind valentine? Then track down an Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata region (which produces less than 1% of Italy’s wine).
I chose two varieties from Campania: Greco and Aglianico. Greco is a straw-yellow white grape with a bouquet of fruit,citrus and a distinct honey note. It is often dry but with a fresh and smooth long lasting taste, perfect for starting the night off on the right foot.
Aglianico brings intensity to the romance with its ruby red color and complex bouquet of berries, prunes, and spices. Ending with a warm and persistent palate of flavor, it’s sure to emulate the intensity of your love.
No matter what variety you pick, you can rest assured that you’re drinking some of the best wine in the world. Many wineries stay true to wine styles that date back almost 4,000 years. Why mess with a good thing, right?!
Step 3: Embrace “La Dolce Vita”
The Italians have a famous way of life, “La Dolce Vita.” The phrase literally translates to “The Sweet Life.” To me, La Dolce Vita is all about enjoying life’s little moments and savoring them. So this Valentine’s Day I am lighting some candles, whipping out the chocolates, and enjoying a glass or two of Italian wine with my husband. This may sound like very simple plans, but we have a toddler. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what that means… there won’t be an ounce of romance present until the little tornado is happily asleep and we can finally sit down to a relaxing (and quiet!) glass of wine. And since I’ll be too exhausted to make a full dinner, my Valentine will have to settle for a little wine-chocolate pairing. The two wines from Campania pair perfectly with solid dark chocolate (for the red) and raspberry mousse petit-fours (for the white.) The fruit and citrus of the Greco varietal pairs wonderfully with a light, berry mousse. The warm and spicy intensity of the Aglianico variety pairs beautifully with a rich dark chocolate.
And there you have it, a date-night-in tour of Italy! If you’re loving this Valentine’s Day idea then make sure to visit Extraordinary Italian Wines for all the details about regions and varietals you’ll need to plan a night of romance. Also follow along on social media for more wine ideas and history: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Please drink responsibly and have a happy Valentine’s Day!