By Holly Bruns
Thinking about Italy conjures images of dramatic shorelines, pastoral expanses, impressive art and architecture, but one can’t imagine the boot-shaped peninsula for too long without visualizing grape vines, staked in rows and dotting the countryside. There is, perhaps, no other country where the everyday culture and that fermented beverage, wine, are so finely intertwined. Indeed, when the Greeks marched up the shores of Italy they promptly named it Oenoetria – land of grapes. The story of wine in Italy has a long history with references to the vine going as far back as the writings of Bacchus, Homer, and Pliny. Today, there are 900,000 or so registered vineyards, more than 1,000 grape varieties planted, and the styles of wine range from fizzy to sweet, from the everyday to the sublime.
Making sense of all that wine can be a bit intimidating. The terminology also gets confusing: frizzante, spumante, classico, appassimento. Add to that grapes with names like Verdicchio, Sagrantino, Grechetto, Garganega, and well, it’s hard to know where to start. But Preston Street isn’t that far away and that’s where you’ll find DiVino Wine Studio: rustic, laid-back, and full of Italian wine. Antonio Mauriello, the proprietor, is an Italian certified sommelier and an instructor in the Sommelier Program at Algonquin College; his love and knowledge of all vino Italiano is infectious.
There are a number of ways to explore the world of Italian wine at DiVino, depending upon your proclivities.
You could explore a $35 Tuesday. Talented chef Cristian Lepore offers up a three course meal that, each week, is centered on a particular region of Italy. Each course may be paired with a wine to compliment the regionality of the food.
For something a little less committal, there’s a bar at DiVino where a small group could sit, sip on a bottle of Prosecco, and indulge in a nibble or two.
If you are really adventurous, you can go all the way with Italy and take a guided tour to the land of the grape. Twice a year Antonio himself guides budding oenophiles through a region of Italy, tasting and sniffing along the way.
If you are planning an evening at DiVino Wine Studio, it’s a good idea to make a reservation.
DiVino Wine Studio
225 Preston Street (North of Gladstone)
Ottawa, ONK1R 7R1
Holly Bruns is an accredited sommelier with degrees from Algonquin College and the Wine Spirits & Education Trust. She lives in Ottawa and is the drinking force behind the successful blog: Wine Out Loud.