The Future of Italy’s Wines and Food
Mark Ganguzza, TV producer straordinario, recently asked me to explain to an audience, in 3 minutes or less, where the foods and wines of Italy are headed. Here is a more polished version of my impromptu remarks.
Italy has always, always been a land of discoveries, even for me, a veteran of more than 130 trips to Italy since 1965. For example, I recall discovering a young tenor in Rome in 1966. His name was Luciano Pavarotti. How about honeymooning in Genoa in 1971 and savoring pesto for the first time?
Italy eats and drinks what’s local and in season. “Kilometer Zero” is alive and well. It cannot be shipped out to China. Restaurants use fresh ingredients. They announce frozen items on their menus. Look for words such as “congelato” or “surgelato.” “Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo” concentrates on local ingredients, the materie prime.
The path for Italy’s wine and food bounty was forged in the 1990’s. Before that, if you were forming a wine list for a restaurant, you were compelled to use the wines of France and California, especially at the top end. Recipes were mostly Italian-American, or, in some cases, “Northern Italian.” The explosion of Italy’s authentic ingredients was about to occur.
The foods and wines of Italy are global sensations today and there will continue to be discoveries of new things Italian, new things that have been around for centuries, millennia. This will take place at every level, from pizza and street food to alta cucina, from Pinot Grigio to Barolo.
We have all embraced risotto and aceto balsamico, for example, as the loftiest expressions of their respective genres, rise and vinegar. And Italy has a secret weapon: the Italian language. People love to say “panini,” “moscato,” “gelato.” Romanian tennis great, Ilie Nastasi, used to curse in Italian. Even curse words, in Italian, sound beautiful and mellifluous.
No one can rival Italy in culinary variety. Italy changes every 10 kilometers, and so do pasta shapes, varietals, and people’s faces. Its fundamental food, pasta (I remember when it was macaroni), cannot only be prepared with numerous sauces, but is also available in a myriad of shapes and forms.
Well, Wine Professor and Il Consigliere del Vino, what will be the next popular food and wine from Italy? I’ll put my money on “farro” grain and “Barbera” wine. Whatever is on the cutting edge from bell’ Italia will be shown on “Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo.” You can bet on it.
(I know, Mark. It’s more than 3 minutes!)