Please join me to learn about the beautiful Italian wine regions along the Adriatic Coast, Emilia-Romagna and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The variety of wines in these two regions is significant, even though the distances are small.
Adriatic Coast: Emilia-Romagna
Emilia-Romagna’s approximate center is the capital of Bologna, a historic town boasting one of Europe’s oldest universities. Bologna interestingly means “the fat one”. This is a great name for a region that is obsessed with great food. Cured meats, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, balsamic vinegar, pastas, vegetables and fish are just some of the delicious fare you will find in Emilia-Romagna.
The Po River and surrounding fertile lands, which make vegetables so easy to grow, make wine grapes a little too easy to grow. We often hear that the best wine grapes are those that need to struggle to grow. In Emilia-Romagna, growth is just a little too easy for the wine grapes to come by. So the wines tend to be a bit thin and unmemorable. The most important wine is Lambrusco, a fizzy, acidic wine that the locals insist goes great with their hearty fare and also helps with digestion.
Adriatic Coast: Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is one of the three northeastern regions of Italy. The other two regions are Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto. The three regions combined are called Tre Venezie, which means Three Venices. According to Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible, Tre Venezie is known for making “Italy’s most stylish, highest quality white wines, including some of the raciest sparkling wines,…[along with] a slew of fascinating reds.” To learn more about Trentino-Alto Adige, please read my article on this region.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia’s wonderful white wines are made from a large number of native and non-native grapes. The four most notable wines coming from native grapes are
- Tocai Friulano, a relative of Sauvignon Blanc that is more full bodied and less aromatic
- Ribolla Grigio, a wine with citrus and peach notes
- Picolit, a rare dessert wine
- Verduzzo di Ramandolo, another wonderful dessert wine
The most notable non-native whites are Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Bianco (also known as Pinot Blanc).
Even though Friuli-Venezia Giulia is known primarily for its whites, nearly half of the wine produced in this region is red. The most important red grapes are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and two native grapes called Schioppettino and Refosco.
Tocai Friulano’s cuisine is very much influenced by the fact that the region borders on Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east. The region blends three peoples and cultures: Italian, Germanic, and Slavic. You’ll find strudels, smoked meats, potatoes, turnips and even sauerkraut and relatively scarce tomato use.
The only wine I’ve tried from Emilia-Romagna or Friuli-Venezia Giulia is Tocai Friulano, which I really enjoyed. If you’ve tried any of the native wines from either of these regions, please share your experiences with us.