Your Florence wine guide

Sangiovese and beyond

Destination Florence
April 6, 2018 - 8:18

The Tuscan capital is found a cork’s throw from Chianti, a region renowned for its production of mostly Sangiovese ruby-red delight. For the foreign imagination, Tuscans and wine have become somewhat synonymous–after all, "wine makes blood," as Florentines often say.


Ph. Alberto Sarrantonio

 

Of course, the region boasts a history of winemaking that predates the city itself, as wine has been a staple since Etruscan times. In Florence, its role in the city’s medieval corporations serves as proof of its cultural and economic prowess: vinattieri, as they were called, became one of Florence’s nine minor guilds in 1266, vintners that oversaw the consumption of wine. To this end, take note of small windows found about a meter above ground on many of Florence’s historic buildings. These buche del vino (wine holes) were added in the seventeenth century when authorities granted vineyard-owning families the right to the retail sale of wine. You’ll find one on via delle Belle Donne flanked by a plaque outlining the rules for consumption and sale.

The city is teeming with historical relics of Tuscany’s rich wine culture, but don’t miss clinking glasses in some of Florence’s top wine bars. In Florence’s with-it Oltrarno neighborhood you’ll find treasured wine spot Il Santino, a warmly lit and cozy happy hour stop set in a former wine cellar. Known as the first wine and tapas pairing hub, the intimate space sources high-quality food and wine from small, local producers.

Across the river you’ll also find Florentine favorite Le Volpi e L’Uva, a pint-sized treasure near Ponte Vecchio. Always filled to the brim and never dull, this enoteca dating to 1992 offers a generous selection of high-quality wines and tasting lessons. Keep your taste buds in the Oltrarno at Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina, a perfect match for serious wine lovers. The tiny wine bar greets visitors with floor-to-ceiling shelves of Italian wines and swanky marble tables. The spot is considered one of the best around, mainly for being infallibly curated and for its friendly, expert sommeliers–and delicious homemade pasta!

Move your wine buzz to central Florence, where Casa del Vino lies hidden in plain sight. This local hole-in-the-wall hangout is found in the San Lorenzo market, a morning-to-night wine spot with specially curated food and wine. This small Florentine treasure box also vaunts wall-to-wall shelves of labeled vintage wines. Nearby, you’ll also find Iran-born Sandro Soltani’s Enoteca in Florence’s Mercato Centrale. Located inside one of Florence’s most visited food courts, the wine bar offers Italian and international labels paired with tasty tapas and snacks. A bit out of the center, Il Grappolo offers a seat for rare vintages in the quiet Campo di Marte neighborhood. The well-priced, rustic enoteca-osteria is your touch of traditional Tuscany for both its location and offerings: a hop away from the stadium, you’re bound to find a taste of local life, not to mention its successful revival of traditional Tuscan dishes.

Fancy that age-old wine-hole stop? If you’re looking to stock up in bulk, head to areas that offer vino sfuso: with bottle in hand or using a vat provided in store, you can opt for a more budget-friendly DIY option. Check out Alla Rinfusa (via del Leone), Il Santo Vino (borgo Tegolaio, 46) and Balthazar Vino e Altro (via dei Camaldoli).

 

Head to destinationflorence.com to learn more about wine in Tuscany, where you’ll find vineyard tours, tastings and other wine-related offerings.

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