As part of my stay at The Beehive Ho[s]tel in Rome (review to come soon!), Linda from The Beehive put me in touch with Eating Italy Food Tours – a fabulous company I spent over eight hours with over the course of my stay at The Beehive!
My first evening with them was spent on their Italian Food & Wine Journey experience which included:
- 6 wines
- 6 courses
- and the fabulous Marco!
Needless to say that after six glasses of Italian wine, my taxi ride home was an experience. But luckily for you guys – I took notes!
Luckily for me too because I learnt so much!
5 Things You Need To Know About Italian Food & Wine Before You Visit Rome
1. Italy produces the most wine in the world!
Go on. You thought it was France didn’t you?
I did too, so even though I trusted our master sommelier Marco, I had to look it up. And unsurprisingly it turns out he was right!
Decanter (a very famous online wine magazine), Bloomberg and the International Business Times have all announced that 2015 was the year that Italy took over France in the role of producing the most wine in the world.
2. Cacio e Pepe is one of the oldest and most traditional Roman recipes
And when I say oldest and most traditional, don’t think I mean bland.
This simple dish of tonnarelli pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, and black pepper packed a punch and tasted fantastic!
It’s also notoriously hard to make – but Anthony Bourdain has given it a go.
Eating Italy Food Tours have written a great blog on the history of Cacio e Pepe.
The short version is that basically all three ingredients were capable of being stored without the need for refrigeration, so they became the perfect combination for wandering shepherds back in the day!
And it’s matching wine? Marco paired it with Quojane of Serramarrocco which just happened to be my favourite of the night!
3. Only Chianti Classico wines can display the Gallo Nero (the black rooster seal)
Okay so first – what are Chianti Classico wines?
Classico is a subregion of the region of Italy that produces the Sangiovese grape used for premium Chianti wines. So basically, Chianti Classico is the good stuff.
So, why the black rooster seal? It’s kind of a funny story…
In the old days, there were no official borders between Florence and Siena to determine who owned what in the Chianti hills. So each took a horseman, gave him a rooster, and told them to set off from the hearts of their respective towns as soon as the rooster crowed to mark the morning.
Where the two horsemen met would be the new border.
The only problem was that the Florentine’s black rooster wasn’t fed quite as well as the Sienese’s white rooster, affording the rider from Florence a head start in the morning!
Which explains why the majority of the Chianti Classico region came under Florentine rule and is now labelled with the Gallo Nero!
4. Prosecco is nicer and cheaper than Champagne!
A classic pre-dinner drink (aperitivo) in Rome, the lightness of Prosecco went beautifully with our starter dish of buffalo mozzarella.
So it’s no surprise that it’s one of Italy’s favourite wines.
But I was surprised to learn that the sale of Italian Prosecco is higher than French Champagne! Again, I checked this, and in the course of my research I also found out that Prosecco sales in the UK increased by 72% in 2015!
This wasn’t so surprising given my family’s love for Buck’s Fizz made with Prosecco rather than Champagne.
5. Dessert wine is actually delicious!
I have a notoriously savoury tongue. When Americans talk about pie I start dreaming of steak and ale while they dream of sweet apples. And on every return trip to London I stop at the pasty shop at Gatwick train station.
Give me a slice of sweet cake and I’ll probably leave half.
Not so on the night of Marco’s Italian Food & Wine Journey! I ate all the cake and drank all the wine because the combination of the two wasn’t just sweet – it was deliciously complimentary!
Which after all is the point of pairing food and wine. As I learnt that night.
3 Reasons You Should Take Part in the Italian Food & Wine Journey with Eating Italy Food Tours
- Marco’s stories of his journey from a winemaker’s son, to an IT professional, and then to a master sommelier who now visits his father’s vineyard with better wine than his father makes is fascinating and often hilarious!
- You will experience true Roman driving because you will not be getting public transport back. You will sit in the back seat of a taxi with a crazy Roman driver dodging across town whilst trying to forget you just drank six glasses of wine.
- You will laugh a lot with strangers. This could be because of the wine, or the host – but I shared a lot of giggles with this fantastic crowd you see below:
Final Tips: The Italian Food & Wine Journey with Eating Italy Food Tours
- The Italian Food & Wine Journey is not a tour, but takes place at a beautiful restaurant near Trastavere, meaning you also get to discover a new area of Rome
- For obvious reasons, you must be over 18 years old to take part in the wine tasting dinner
- The evening runs twice a week
- The dinner begins at 19:30 and runs for 2.5-3 hours
- I would advise arriving to the venue at least 45 minutes early in case you get lost – which I did! I can’t include a location map here as the venue is a secret until you book, but it is well connected by public transport. I just manage to get lost everywhere…
- As a side note – the team at Eating Italy Food Tours are really helpful and you are given their number if at any point you do get lost or need their help!
- The experience costs 80 EUR – click here to see the timetable and book
- Whilst this may seem very steep for a budget traveller – it’s a beautiful experience and for those passionate about food and wine it is well worth the money for the time spent and the amount you taste and learn
I’d like to give a huge thanks to Eating Italy Food Tours for having me as a guest on their Italian Food & Wine Journey, and to The Beehive Ho[s]tel for helping arrange the experience, but of course all opinions are honest and my own.
I’d also like to give a big shout to Marco and my fellow dinner guests for being so much fun!
— Katie Dawes (@the_hostelgirl) February 8, 2016
Lots of love,
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