Italy is home to some of the world’s oldest wine producing regions, dating back to 800 BC. It is also the world’s largest wine producer by volume. Grapes are grown in almost every region of the country, and there are more than one million vineyards under cultivation. By comparison, California, America’s largest wine producing state, has 4,283 vineyards. Way to go, Italia! Rupa Mathur and Alfred Van Gool treated the Wine Stewards to a tasting of the wines of Italy. Members sampled dry white Italian wines and red Italian wines while munching on bruschetta, antipasti and meatballs. Highlights of the evening included a Pinot Grigio and a Vernaccia. Riondo Pianello Pinot Grigio comes from the Veneto region of Italy, and Riondo is one of the largest and most important wine producers in Italy. Pinot Grigio is more than just the Italian name for Pinot Gris; it has become a wine style in its own right, wholly Italian. Pianello can be found on every restaurant table across Italy. This wine is smooth and bright with nice notes of honeyed, lemony, ripe apple and assorted tropical fruit aromas and flavors. Vernaccia is a white Italian wine made from the Vernaccia grape, produced in and around San Gimignano in Tuscany. Since the Renaissance it has been considered one of Italy’s finest white wines. Albino Armani Valpolicella Pipasso was a star among the reds. Valpolicella is a red wine produced near the town of Verona in Italy’s Veneto region. It is a blended red and has a pleasant spicy quality with notes of cumin and cinnamon along with red cherry and plum fruit. This winery began in 1607. Sangiovese di Toscano Pietro was another tongue twister hit among the Italian red wines. This is Tuscany’s No. 1 red wine grape. Sangiovese is excellent as a blend and has hints of cherry and violet. It produces elegant wines with powerful aromas. Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno rounded out the red offerings. It is produced from the Sangiovese and Montepulciano grapes and features musky raspberry, fresh herbs and cocoa on the nose. It is lush and broad and smooth on the palate. Who could refuse a description such as this? Infused with every vowel imaginable and comforted with quality tastings and appetizers, the Wine Stewards enjoyed an evening relaxing Italian style. Ciao.