In Vino Veritas

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Aug 14, 2021

“In wine there is truth.” These now-immortal words were famously recorded by the Roman scholar—and recorder of nearly all things—Pliny of the Elder. (He also identified and named the hops plant, hence his popular namesake IPA beer.)

In the spirit of veritas there was a second part to Pliny’s aphorism that has been nearly forgotten—in aqua sanitas—which means “in water health.”

For years, In Vino Veritas has been embraced by wine enthusiasts the world over. But hard as it is to imagine, not all that long ago the land of La Dolce Vita was not even on the “wine map,” so to speak, despite thousands of years of viticulture. In 1967 the 716-page New Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits devoted exactly 4 1/2 pages to Italian wines. In truth, most native Italian wines were anything but world-class at that time.

Of course Italians, being masters of reinvention, have achieved nothing less than a total transformation of Italian wine-making—and the world has taken notice. Today virtually every wine anywhere in Italy, from Sicily to the Alps, is different (and far better) than it was 75 years ago. Have Italian wines surpassed French wines? Most experts would consider it a coin toss. Of the four wines that achieved Wine Spectator’s 2020 highest rating (97 out of 100) three were Italian and the other a French champagne . . .

And that’s the honest veritas.