The Essential Guide to Discovering Italian Wine in Rome

August 10, 2018

The Essential Guide to Discovering Italian Wine in Rome

Ah, Rome. The birthplace of western civilisation, spanning 28th centuries of history and still home to some of the most remarkably well preserved historical sites today. Rome is one of the most iconic cities of Europe, conjuring up all sorts of images in the minds of travelers the world over. Whether it's the immense colosseum, still standing after over 2000 years, the regal Roman Forum or the holy city of the Vatican, there's more than a few reasons for the history buff to visit Rome. Gastronomically it's no slouch either, with a unique use of local ingredients, techniques and dishes that set it apart from any other city in Italy. Then of course, there's the wine. During the heyday of the Roman Empire, thousands of gallons poured into the city on a daily basis, lubricating the social fabric of this great capital city. Today, not much has changed!

Despite the fact that Rome is not located near any of Italy's more prominent wine regions, it has the power of Lazio to call upon, with 27 separately registered DOC wine production zones outside its door. Then within the city itself is a veritable feast of small wine bars, wine shops and restaurants. The famous white pizza of Rome and a flagon of Frascati is one of Rome's great pairings and you can almost picture the cascades of simple, delicious wine that must have sloshed around this city throughout the centuries. As always, we're here to point you in the right direction, so, get ready to explore the vinous delights of Rome!

Wine Trips from Rome


Wine Trips from Rome


Whilst many travelers in Rome opt for the long journey to Tuscany, there's a wealth of vineyards and excellent wine right on Rome's doorstep. Lazio isn't just the heartland of Italy's government, it's also home to over 17,000 hectares of vines, spanning 27 quality wine regions. If that isn't exciting enough, the lack of some of the more stringent, high-profile wine regions means that many exciting wine-makers have ventured here, drawn by the proximity to Italy's capital city and the opportunity to make wine more creatively. With 27 regions to choose from, narrowing it down to 3 is hard but we've got there. Get ready for our top 3 wineries to visit from Rome!

Should you still want to take a day trip to Tuscany from Rome, be sure to read our guide here


The Region – Frascati

Frascati is Lazio's most famous wine region, named after a town just east of Rome itself. This is white wine country and Frascati at its best is immensely complex, refreshing and ageworthy, ideal for brushing off the heat of a summer in Rome! It's also an opportunity to revel in Italy's greatest resource; its enviable plethora of indigenous grape varieties. Produced from the ancient Malvasio del Lazio, this is a wine well worth venturing outside the city walls to discover.

The Winery – Principe Pallavicini

If you want to experience everything that Frascati has to offer, Principe Pallavicini is for you. A beautiful country estate just outside Rome itself, this has been in the Pallavicini family since 1670, a noble family that has included both royalty and popes in their number over the years! The focus is very much on quality and their 90 hectares of land are painstakingly tended to, although we'd be remiss not to mention how charming the cellar is as well. Should you visit, be sure to try their excellent Extra Virgin Olive Oil, produced from gnarled olive trees that are well over 100 years old, on top of your wine tasting. You won't regret it!

The Wine – Poggio Verde Frascati Superiore DOCG

Now, this is what Frascati is all about. This blend of Malvasia del Lazio, Greco, Grechetto and Trebbiano comes together to show what Roman wine can be. Gorgeous aromas of stone fruits and orange blossom jump out of the glass, focused on the palate with lovely, crisp acidity. This is the sort of wine you just want to sit down and smell all afternoon, preferably whilst looking out over the beautiful vineyards of Principe Pallavicini! The ideal summer aperitif although with the texture and acidity, this could well be the star of the show in its own right!

For more information and to contact Principe Pallavicini regarding a visit, get in touch through their website

Visit Viterbo Wine

The Region – Viterbo

Viterbo is to the far north of Lazio, bordering Umbria and home to a town by the same name. Well worth a visit in its own right, as one of the countries most charming medieval towns, Viterbo is also home to some of the regions more exciting productions. Better known historically for the remarkably named 'Est! Est!! Est!!!' appellation, Viterbo is also home to a particularly important estate, owned and ran by one of Italy's most famous wine-making families...

The Winery – Falesco

With 250 hectares sprawling along the border between Lazio and Umbria, this is quite the project! Ricardo and Renzo are two of Italy's most famous wine-makers, consulting and working for some of the most prestigious wineries in the country. Yet, this is their pride and joy. There's a broad portfolio of wines to enjoy, covering white, red and even sparkling, made possible by the vineyards situated on a variety of soil types, including a lot of ancient, volcanic soils. Yet, if we had to choose a single wine, we know exactly what it would be!

The Wine – Montiano

One of, if not the best, red wine made in Lazio; a bold claim, but one that we feel confident making! Unusually, this is made from 100% Merlot, a rarity in Lazio, with all the grace and charm of top quality Pomerol. Full of juicy red fruits, violets, chocolate and soft, supple tannins, this is utterly delicious stuff. Unsurprisingly, it's the flagship wine here at Falesco and not made in large quantities, so do be sure to bring back a bottle or two with you to share with your wine loving friends at home!

For more information or to contact Falesco regarding a visit, get in touch through their website

Lake Bolsena Italy

The Region – Lake Bolsena

100km north of Rome lies Lake Bolsena, created hundreds of thousands of years ago by an erupting volcano and surrounded by the beautiful countryside of Lazio. Whilst the majority of travelers head to Lake Bolsena for the natural beauty and water related activities, the surrounding hills lie on top of volcanic soil and dotted with small vineyards full of interesting, rare, indigenous grape varieties. It takes a certain sort of wine-maker to set up here, producing wines from grapes that very few people have heard of before, but when it works, it's really quite spectacular!

The Winery – Andrea Occhiptini

Another famous Occhipinti in the Italian wine scene, yet Andrea is no relation to the famous Arianna Occhipinti of Sicily to the south. His story is quite remarkable, accidentally falling in love with the area whilst studying the soils for his masters degree in agriculture. Shortly thereafter, he acquired 4 hectares of land on the slopes overlooking the lake, and the rest they say, is history. Working exclusively with the exciting Aleatico and Grechetto grapes, these are some of the very best natural wines in Italy. Better yet, due to the size of the operation, any visit is likely to be a very personal one indeed!

The Wine – Arcaico Rosso

Made from Aleatico and Grechetto, this wine is fermented and aged in beautiful, clay amphorae and cement tanks to ensure that the flavours of the grapes speak loud and clear above all else. Vibrant and delicious, this wine is all about juicy red cherries, violets, sweet herbs and wonderfully chalky tannins. Perfectly balanced and utterly moreish, it's such a shame that this is produced in such small quantities! Make sure to track down a bottle if you find yourself in Rome or, better yet, go for a visit and bring back as much with you as you can!

For more information or to contact Andrea regarding a visit, get in touch using the contact information on his website.

Wine Shops and Bars in Rome
Wine Bars and Shops in Rome

As you might expect from the capital city of a country as gastronomically famous as Italy, there's a very vibrant food and wine scene in Rome. There are hundreds of tiny, tucked-away little bars, diners and family-owned restaurants serving some of the most delicious food and wine in Italy, yet we've narrowed it down to our favourite 4 in total. If you find yourself in Rome and want to shop or wine, or just grab a glass and watch the world go by, this next bit's for you:

Enoteca Costantini
Piazza Cavour, 16
Opened in 1972, this wine shop has since become an emblem in the city, with thousands of bottles of wines and spirits stored safely away in their impressive cellar. If you want to find an Italian wine here from a specific producer, there's a good chance it's stocked in Enoteca Costantini! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to wander around, as once you've wrapped your head around the elegant entrance and shop, there's a huge, 800m2 cellar to explore beyond it. Truly a winelovers paradise in Rome. Enoteca Costantini

Les Vignerons
Via Goffredo Mameli, 61
If you want to explore a slightly wilder side to Italian wine, be sure to visit Les Vignerons towards the east of Rome. Specialising in natural wines and beers, most of which are Italian as you might expect, this is a haven for lovers for terroir lovers. You'll likely bump into one of the owners, the lovely Antonio or Marisa, who will be happy to talk you through some of the more eclectic wines on their list. They also regularly host wine tastings with local producers, so be sure to check their Facebook page to see if anything coincides with your visit! Les Vignerons

Il Goccetto
Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 14
As far as cosy wine bars go, Il Goccetto is right up there with the best of them. The dim lights and the bottles lined all along the wall make this bar feel like a completely different world to the bustling city outside, and with a wide variety of excellent Italian wines and small plates to choose from, we're not sure we're ever going to leave! Il Goccetto gets full quickly but if the weather's warm, well, feel free to grab a glass and hang out by the tour with the rest of the locals. Il Goccetto

Beppe e I suoi Formaggi
Via di Santa Maria del Pianto, 9A/11
As the name suggests, this bar isn't just about wine. Beppe Giovale, the owner, comes from a long line of cheese-makers in Piedmont, northern Italy, and unsurprisingly this is reflected in Beppe e I suoi Formaggi. We're not sure that there's a better place to eat cheese in the city and better yet, there's an excellent list of wines to pair with them. Why not try something hard and strong with a firm, structured Barbera from Northern Italy? Soft cheeses and frascati, perhaps? Well, we'll leave it to the experts. If you love cheese and wine, this place is for you! Bepe e i suoi Formaggi

Top 10 Rome Travel Tips

 

Top 10 Rome Travel Tips

Now that we've covered some vinous gems, it's time to look at some general travel advice. Rome is a big, busy city, particularly in the summer months and there's a few tricks we've picked up over the years to make life a little easier. Here are our Top 10 Rome Travel Tips:

Mediterranean Dining - Get used to eating later at night! Rome, like much of Italy, is a city where dinner is rarely eaten before 9pm. If you're used to eating between 6-7, make sure you have a late lunch or an afternoon snack; many of the best restaurants won't take reservations before 9!
Monday Blues - On the same note, do be aware that many restaurants close on Mondays rather than Sundays in Rome. If you have your heart set on a particular restaurant, double check their opening hours to avoid disapppointment.
Reservations - Whether you're looking to eat at a recommended restaurant or want to buy tickets to see the attractions, make sure you make reservations and book online. As mentioned before, Rome is busy and queues can be lengthy! Assume every restaurant and attraction will be oversubscribed and act accordingly.
Museum Night - This will only be relevant to certain travel schedules, but do be aware that Museums and other attractions are usually free to enter on the first Sunday of every month. Needless to say, this is a particularly busy night so bet on some sizeable crowds!
Church Attire - One of the most visited attractions in Rome is the vatican, but be aware that a certain amount of formality is required, even in summer. If your legs down to your knees and/or your shoulders aren't covered, expect to be turned away until you've found something more appropriate.
Night Tours - Whilst you may want to see the major attractions during the daytime, do be aware that they can be staggeringly beautiful at night and often much less busy!
Tipping - Italy doesn't have a strong tipping culture, and a few euros is usually sufficient. We still tip generously when we receive good service, but don't feel obliged if you've had a bad experience!
Cash is King - It's worth keeping a few extra euros on you as you wander around Rome, as some of the smaller shops and bars still don't accept cards! Make sure you change them before you visit as local rates can be quite severe.
Pick-pockets - Unfortunately, Rome is a city where pick-pocketing isn't uncommon. Keep your personal belongings close to you, particularly around crowded, touristic areas.
House Wine - To finish on a vinous note once again, be aware that the house wine is often pretty good stuff! Order 'un quarto di rosso della casa' and see what you think. A quarter of a carafe will usually set you back around 5 euros and may be just what you need for a simple lunch.
Wine Table in Rome

Conclusion

Between everything that Rome has to offer, we suspect you won't be short on options! As you can see, for wine-lovers there's a wealth of vinous based activities, both inside and outside the city. If you're visiting Rome and enjoy the wine, remember to bring some back with you to share with your friends and family; they'll thank you for it! Saluti!

For more on our specially designed wine luggage and more detailed information on how to travel with alcohol, check out the links below:






Also in Lazenne Blog

A Beginner's Guide to French Wine
A Beginner's Guide to French Wine

October 19, 2018 0 Comments

France and wine are inextricably linked, with France being the hearbeat and the benchmark of the wine world. Understanding this incredible, romantic country on the other handy isn't quite so easy! We've put together this simple, beginners guide to help you get started in your exploration of French wine, and we hope you find it as useful as we've found it fun to write!

View full article →

The Best 10 Wine Bars and Wine Shops in London
The Best 10 Wine Bars and Wine Shops in London

October 12, 2018 0 Comments

London is the heartbeat of wine culture in Europe, with wine from absolutely all over the world sipped, swirled and drank in this remarkable city. Wine lovers really are spoilt for choice here, so we've created a list of our favourite wine bars and wine shops, to help you make the most of your time there. Get exploring the London wine scene!

View full article →

The Worlds Most Important Wine Grapes Part II - White Wine
The Worlds Most Important Wine Grapes Part II - White Wine

October 05, 2018 0 Comments

This week we're looking at the 5 Most Important White Grape Varieties in the World! Whether you prefer zesty, fresh white wine or buttery and soft, understanding these 5 grape varieties will give you a much better understanding when it comes to navigating the world of wine. From every corner of the world, it's time to explore these white grapes!

View full article →