The production of wine is an ancient tradition that dates back thousands of years. It’s not just about having aglass of wine. After all, each country has its own history and unique characteristics when it comes to drinking. Some are known for their large-scale production, while others are better known for their exceptional quality and iconic wines. In this article, we are going to explore some of the most emblematic of each country with tradition in the production of this drink, including the history, geography, and unique characteristics that make them so special. We’ll even give you some pairing tips with each of them. These are certainly important tips that will make all the difference when stocking your wine cellar.
The history of winemaking in France is long and rich. The Romans were the first to cultivate vines in France, and production expanded during the Middle Ages. France has become known for its production of high quality wines, especially in the Bordeaux, Champagne and Rhône regions.
In the Modern Age, France developed a classification for the drink, based on quality and price, and it is still used today. The French Revolution brought about significant changes in wine production, including the expropriation of noble lands and the sale of vineyards to individual farmers.
In the 19th century, France faced a series of natural disasters, including phylloxera, an insect plague that destroyed many vineyards. This led to the development of new vine varieties and more resistant cultivation techniques.
There are so many wines, from various types of grapes and French regions, that we could talk about them for hours here. However, despite Cabernet Sauvignon being the most cultivated in the country, we chose the Merlot variety to highlight here.
Wines made from Merlot grapes have an elegant characteristic, producing wines with a soft texture and aromas of Mediterranean and red fruits. Therefore, great pairing with this grape are matured cheeses. Opt for cheeses like parmesan or cheddar, although you should also try a good risotto with a merlot.
The history of wine production in Spain is as old as the history of wine production in France. The Romans also cultivated vines in Spain, and wine production expanded during the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, Spain became known for its production of high quality wines, especially in the regions of Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Navarra.
In the Modern Age, Spain faced economic and political challenges that affected wine production, including the Spanish Civil War. However, Spain continued to be an important producer of the drink, and the regions of Rioja and Ribera del Duero became known for their high quality wines.
Since the 1970s, Spain has begun to experience a renaissance in winemaking, with the emergence of new grape varieties and production techniques. This has led to an increase in quality and international recognition. Today, Spain is the third largest producer of this drink in the world, making it very important for the country’s economy.
The grape we are going to use to represent Spanish wines is Tempranillo. This grape is the most cultivated in Spanish soil and produces spectacular wines. However, Garnacha and Monastrell are also widely cultivated there.
The wines from the Tempranillo grape have the characteristic of low sugar, discreet acidity and very present tannins. The drink made with this type of grape is very aromatic and has a certain spice. Therefore, to harmonize with Tempranillo, you can opt for dishes such as pasta with sugo sauce, bolognese and also meats such as filet mignon.
Wines from Italy
The history of Italian wines, of course, dates back to Roman times, when the Romans grew grapes and produced wines throughout the Italian Peninsula. During the Middle Ages, wine production was mainly concentrated in the regions of Tuscany, Piedmont and Veneto. From the Renaissance, wine production began to expand to other regions of Italy, including Sicily and Puglia. In the 19th century, Italian wine production increased significantly with the emergence of new grape varieties. As in all European regions, there have been improvements in production technology. Today, Italy is one of the world’s leading wine producers, with a wide range of styles and varieties, including red, white and rosé wines.
One of the most iconic grapes in Italy is Nebbiolo, which is grown primarily in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. It is the base grape of Barolo and Barbaresco red wines, which are considered some of the best red wines in the world. The Nebbiolo grape has an intense color and is known for its aromatic complexity, with hints of ripe red fruit, wildflowers and spices. The grape is considered challenging to grow due to its sensitivity to climate and its need for long maturation before harvesting.
When it comes to pairing with Barolo and Barbaresco, our tip is to accompany them with red meat, pasta with meat or mushroom sauces and also with cured cheeses.
The history of wine production in Portugal is also very old and, as in other European countries, they had the influence of the Romans. Production has expanded over the years. During the Middle Ages, Portugal became known for its production of high quality wines, especially in the Douro and Vinho Verde regions.
Despite being a small country in territory, however, Portugal has a diversity of wine producing regions. The Portuguese are great at producing still wines, as well as making fortified wines.
The Portuguese wine we are going to talk about is Port wine. A little different in the type of production compared to red wine, Port wine is produced with wine brandy, which, therefore, is a drink made from the distillation of wine. Know that there are several types of Port wines, including white ones. Among the main characteristics of Port wine are its high alcohol content (around 20%), however another characteristic of this drink is its sweetness.
To harmonize with Port Wine, desserts are ideal. So choose between desserts based on red fruits and chocolate. However, it is possible to harmonize with something salty, such as cheese.
Now we are going to leave Europe and travel to South America. The wines of our “hermanos” are among the most prized in the world. The history of wine production in Argentina is less ancient than the history of wine production in Europe, but it is still rich. The first Spanish settlers introduced vines to Argentina in the 16th century, but production did not develop significantly until the 19th century.
During the 19th century, European immigrants, mainly Spanish and Italian, brought their grape varieties and cultivation techniques to Argentina and the production of the drink began to develop. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Argentina became an important producer, especially in the regions of Mendoza and San Juan.
The most emblematic grape in Argentina is Malbec. However, despite being of French origin, Malbec has adapted very well to the soil, climate and altitude of Argentina. Among the main characteristics of this grape are its intense flavor and fruity aroma.
To harmonize with a Malbec wine, nothing better than red meat, especially the fatty ones. Therefore, a great option is a good barbecue with an Argentine Malbec
Of course, we couldn’t leave Brazil in our article. The first Portuguese settlers introduced vines to Brazil in the 16th century, but wine production did not develop significantly until the 19th century.
During the 19th century, European immigrants, mainly Italians and Germans, brought their grape varieties and cultivation techniques to Brazil and wine production began to develop. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Brazil became an important producer, especially in the Serra Gaúcha, Vale dos Vinhedos and Campanha Gaúcha regions.
Currently, Brazil still has its greatest production and winemaking tradition concentrated in the southern region of the country. But there are several producers in the southeast and northeast as well. Despite producing great red wines, however, our country is very internationally recognized for the production of sparkling wines and has a large production of this type of wine. Sparkling wines go well with our warm and festive climate.
Sparkling wines, due to their versatility of pairing, are a great option to combine with various types of dishes. Therefore, they go well with savory dishes and desserts, which is why they can be called the “wildcard of pairing”, so use and abuse your imagination when opening your sparkling wine.
Wines from other countries that also have great tradition
In addition to the countries already mentioned and detailed above, other countries not only in Europe and America are also excellent producers of the drink and have great production and tradition in the world of wines.
Among these countries are:
- Germany, which produces great Riesling white grape wines that harmonize very well with white meats, seafood and even desserts.
- Uruguay, which has Tannat as its emblematic grape and goes very well with a barbecue with fatty meats.
- The United States, which produces excellent wines from the Pinot Noir grape. A good pairing is risotto or cheese pizza.
- Australia, which is among the world’s best producers of the Shiraz grape. Burgers and meats with strong aromas are good options for accompanying.
- South Africa has Pinotage as its main grape. To harmonize, bet on a pepperoni pizza or a roast sirloin.
- Chile that has carmenere as an emblematic grape and that harmonizes well with low-fat red meats.
Therefore, our recommendation is not to miss the opportunity to try the drink from these countries as well.
In short, the history of winemaking is an ancient tradition that dates back thousands of years. Each country has its own history and unique characteristics when it comes to wines, but they have all experienced economic and political challenges. France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, known as the old world, stand out for their production of high quality wines. Now in the so-called new world, Argentina is the highlight in the production and quality of the drink. In Brazil, the regions of Serra Gaúcha, Vale dos Vinhedos and Campanha Gaúcha, despite producing great red wines, are known and famous for their high quality sparkling wines. There are several countries that stand out in the production of the drink and each one with its particularity. Drink production is important for the economy of countries and also has cultural significance. Now with regard to the pairings, despite all our tips, individual taste is also worth it and we always reinforce here so as not to get stuck with “little rules”. Check out our various articles about wines and until next time !