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Raffi Khorchidian, sicilian wines- an overview

When it comes to well-known wine destinations, Sicily stands as one of the most established. The island has been cited as a wine-making establishment for millennia, with evidence pointing to wine making and trading as early as 1500 BC.

Today, Sicilian wines remain some of the most regarded and coveted in the world. Sicily currently has more vineyards than any other region in Italy, and it has made great use of them, producing high quality wines ranging from chardonnay to a variety of indigenous grapes.

Here is a quick guide to Sicilian wine.

 

A rich history

Following its earliest origins in BC-era Aeolian Islands, Sicilian wine has been traced back to 8th century Greek settlements in the region. From here, the wine’s prominence jumps to the mid-to-late 1700s, a pivotal time in its continued implementation. It was in 1773 that John Woodhouse began producing a wine that would go down as one of Sicily’s most famous products: Marsala (first made in the city of the same name). Marsala, “a fortified wine with an alcohol content of around twenty percent,” remains an iconic Sicilian wine to this day.

By the 20th century, Sicily had started exporting many of its grapes to other regions of Italy (it was producing them had an enormous rate). However, over the last few decades, the island has risen, on its own, as one of Italy’s finest wine makers.

 

The power of grapes

A staple of Sicilian wine culture is its variety of grape varieties. These wines are made from a range of different grape types grown to emphasize an equally eclectic mix of flavors. Grapes are used either “in purezza” (typically for single grape variety wines) or they are simply blended.

Popular Sicilian grape varieties:

  • Zibibbo
  • Muscato
  • Malvasia
  • Primitivo

 

Pairings and possibilities

Many Sicilian wines pair exceptionally well with a wide variety of different foods. Dishes that pair well with Sicilian wines include various seafoods, pasta dishes, desserts (especially cannolis), and even a range of Sicilian appetizer-style dishes such as antipasti and mushrooms. Sicilian meat dishes also stand as good partnering entrees, including Farsumagru and Braciole alla Sicilian. Furthermore, Sicilians are very fond of fried foods, and many of these foods also serve as quick and easy pairings with most Sicilian wines. Like any other wine and food pairing process, the name of the game with Sicilian dishes is experimentation.