Northern Italy top of best food and wine list

From a predominantly food perspective, Spain and France certainly have several places that are home to great foods and wines.
Ti Gong

Sangiovese vines in Romagna

What’s the world’s best place for foodies and wine lovers? I doubt a true consensus could ever be reached but some regions certainly deserve a mention.

From a predominantly food perspective, some regions of China would certainly enter the discussion, while Spain and France certainly have several places that are home to great foods and wines. At or near the top of the list would be a northern Italian region that’s home to many of the world’s most admired foods as well as wines.


Fortuitously situated in the temperate climate of northern Italy, Emilia-Romagna is a cultural and tourist center that produces many of the world’s greatest foods, as well as excellent wines. The region also designs and produces many advanced state-of-the-art kitchen tools and appliances as featured in today’s feature iDEAL article.

Emilia-Romagna is one of the most prosperous in Europe and home of some of the world’s most famous cars and motorbike producers, including Ferrari, Lamborguhini, Maserati, de Tomaso and Ducati. 

Celebrated foods from the region include Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Balsamico di Modena vinegar, Prosciutto di Parma and Mortadella meats and many other treats. 

In addition to sexy cars, motorbikes and delicious foods, Emilia-Romagna also make some wonderful wines. 

The history of winemaking in Emilia-Romagna is long indeed, with the ancient Etruscan civilization making some of Italy’s earliest wines in this region centuries before the advent of the Roman Empire. 

Often called the original gourmets of Italy, the Etruscans loved good foods and wines and they most likely planted the ancestral vines of modern Emilia-Romagna wines.

The most famous wine is Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine with a mixed reputation. 

Most the good Lambrusco wines stay in Italy, while exported wines tend to be sweet easy drinking party wines at best. On my trips to the region I’ve tasted high quality Lambrusco sparklers that are quite balanced and fresh. Despite the improving quality of Lambrusco wines, my favorite wines of the region are the still reds and whites.

If you love the Sangiovese variety then I strongly recommend you try Sangiovese di Romagna wines. 

The style is distinct from the neighboring Sangiovese wines of Tuscany, more fruit-driven and rounder, and they’re eminently more affordable. 

In fact, a good case could be made that Sangiovese di Romagna wines are among the best value, good-quality red wines of Italy. 

Sangiovese di Romagna wines are available in different styles, including Novello, a new wine like Beaujolais Nouveau, where 50 percent of the grapes undergo carbonic maceration; Superiore, denoting wines comprised of premium sourced grapes with a higher minimum alcohol levels; and Riserva, a title found throughout Italy that means the wines have longer minimum aging periods. 

For Sangiovese di Romagna wines this means a minimum combined two years of oak and bottle ageing. 

As Italy’s most important red variety, several regions, including Tuscany, are keen to take credit for being the birth place of the variety. In fact, most historians today believe Romagna deserves this distinction. 

Recent studies claim that Sangiovese is part of the vitis silvestris family, a native variety of Romagna since Paleolithic times. 

Today, the Sangiovese wines of Romagna are winning acclaim and awards worldwide. 

One wine you’ll find in our fair city that typifies the honest, high-quality style of Sangiovese wines from Romagna is Ca’Lunga Incantesimo Sangiovese, a DOC wine comprised of 88 percent Sangiovese and 12 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, that offers lovely ripe cherry and plum aromas and nicely round red fruit flavors with soft, mouth-coating tannins. 

Other styles of Emilia-Romagna wines of note include the two DOCG white wines, the Albana di Romagna and Colli Bolonesi Classico Pignoletta. 

The former is a refined white wine made from the Albana variety that makes smooth and fresh wines. The wines may be dry or sweet but they still retain the nutty, almond like character of the variety. 

Sparkling DOC wines are also made from the variety. 

Located in the rolling hills, Southwest of Bologna, is Colli Bolonesi Classico Pignoletto DOCG area, a sub-appellation of Colli Bolonesi region. 

The DOCG wines made from the Pignoletto variety are lively and crisp wines with lime and green apple qualities.  

Ti Gong

Region and style at a glance

Chinese cuisine affinity

That the wines of Emilia-Romagna pair perfectly with their famous local foods like Prociutto di Parma, Parmigiano, tortellini and ravioli, should surprise no one. 

However, I’ve been fortunate to be able to pair styles of Emilia-Romagna wines with Chinese cuisine and the results were delightfully delicious. 

Some suggested combinations are Albana di Romagna and Colli Bolonesi Classico Pignoletto whites with seasonal steamed hairy crabs, Shanghai style river eel in brown sauce and deep-fried wild yellow croaker fish. 

The generous and earthy Sangiovese di Romagna are lovely companions to flavorful Chinese meat dishes like Cantonese roasted goose, Shanghai braised pork belly and Nanjing smoked duck.

Recommended Emilia-Romagna producers with wines available in Shanghai include: Ca’Lunga, Romandiola and Umberto Cesari for Sangiovese and other red wines and Cantina Puianello and Cavicchioli for Lambrusco red sparklers. 

Where to buy in Shanghai

Porto Matto Restaurant

83 Changshu Rd, 6417-7577Ca’Lunga Incantesimo Sangiovese (website)

Cavicchioli Roso Lambrusco

Romandiola Sangiovese di Romagna (website)

Cantina Puianello Prima Rosa Lumbrusco

Cantina Puianello Graspasossa Lumbrusco

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