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Greek settlers introduced the vine to Italy as early as 800 BC and christened the country "Oenotria" or "land of the vine". At the height of the Roman Empire, wines were exported to other parts of Europe, and other regions adopted the winemaking practices which the Romans improved upon. The Romans may have been the first to recognize potential in a wine, preferred aged wines and realized that to effectively age wines, they needed airtight containers, thus invented the wooden barrel. Wine from the Roman Empire was often mixed with water to decrease alcohol content, or with honey, herbs and spices and because the Roman palate preferred sweet wines, they often drank sweet whites. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Italian wine was often criticized for its poor quality. The government responded to this criticism by establishing the DOCG (Denominazione di origine controllata) and stricter wine regulations. Both the quality and the reputation of the wine improved. Today, Italy is wealthy in local varieties and seemingly endless supply of intriguing styles. At the moment, there are about 350 official Italian wine varieties.  

 

 

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