Wine, Limoncello, and Sciacchetrà... oh my!
The local wines you will taste in Cinque Terre are very special. Due to the small production & size of these family owned vineyards you will not find these wines outside of the region. The uniqueness of the wines is due to the combination of the grapes, soil, sun, temperature and sea air. As all wine lovers know we can smell and taste the origins of the grapes. Most producers in the Cinque Terre make less than 4000 bottles annually.
The signature Cinque Terre DOC bianco is a dry white that pairs wonderfully with the local seafood & pasta dishes. It is typically made from three white grape varieties: Bosco, Albarola & Vermentino. It is a beautiful golden color with Mediterannean herbal notes, citrus and honey. It has a long finish and pleasant acidity.
In addition to the selection of local wines you can try wines from different regions of Italy, like the tasty Red Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany, for a fraction of the price you would pay in the states.
Some other things you will experience are the locally made after-dinner drinks. You may have tasted Limoncello before but the local version is made from lemons grown in the mountains surrounding the village. You will find it fresh, tart, slightly sweet and delicious. It is less sugary than commercial limoncello found in grocery stores.
Another local specialty is a sweet wine called Sciacchetrà. If you have tasted Vin Santo it may seem similar, but it is a completely unique flavor and one you should taste even if you are not a "dessert wine" type. Sciacchetrà is made from the same white grapes but when the small clusters are hand picked they are hung in the wine cellar to air dry for about 50 days. The air circulates around the grapes as they dry. The result is a concentrated sweet wine that varies in color from golden yellow to amber with about 17% alcohol. Sciacchetrà, praised by Boccaccio, derives it's name from the two words "sciac"and "trac" which represent the two important steps in making the wine. They used to be dried in the sun on stone slabs & then placed in special casks. It is delicious after a meal and is a staple in the local homes to celebrate any special occasion. It expresses the highest form of gratitude if given as a gift.
Grappa, Sambuca with espresso beans, Cynar and Aperol are other drinks enjoyed In the region.