Have you heard that Italians don’t drink wine with pizza? Several knowledgeable websites inform me they prefer beer, or even (gasp) Coke.
That’s the thing about Italy: You can always learn something you didn’t know.
When I was a starving student in Bologna, my classmates and I liked to fill up on before-meal bread in cheap restaurants, to save money on expensive entrees.
And in my favorite working-class trattoria, I learned to twirl my spaghetti with a fork, using a big spoon as a base.
Later I learned that both of these acts were American faux pas.
So it seems Italy’s dining customs are as confusing as its wine laws. Don’t get me started. Still, I wouldn’t worry about feeling inappropriate if you visit Italy. It’s a friendly, relaxed country. And there’s always that common denominator: wine. If you get to Tuscany – and that’s a very good idea – here are some nice Chiantis to try. (Incidentally, they all go great with pizza).
• 2010 Cecchi Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany (90 percent sangiovese, 10 percent colorino): floral aroma, rich red plum and anise flavors, full-bodied, intensely fruity; $15.
• 2009 Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany (cabernet sauvignon, canaiolo nero, sangiovese): hint of oak, crisp aromas, flavors of black cherries and bittersweet chocolate, long finish; $18.
• 2010 Cecchi Chianti DOCG, Tuscany (90 percent sangiovese, 5 percent colorino, 5 percent canaiolo nero): floral aromas, tart cherry and chocolate flavors; $11.
• 2009 Cecchi “Riserva di Famiglia” Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, Tuscany (90 percent sangiovese, 10 percent colorino): hint of oak, spicy black cherry and espresso flavors, full-bodied; $30.
• 2011 Banfi Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany (cabernet sauvignon, canaiolo nero, sangiovese): floral aromas, black plum flavors, big, ripe tannins, full-bodied; $13.
• 2011 Banfi Chianti Superiore DOCG, Tuscany (75 percent sangiovese, 25 percent cabernet sauvignon and canaiolo nero): floral aromas, sweet black cherry flavors, medium body; $11
• 2010 Villa Cerna Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, by Cecchi, Tuscany: (90 percent sangiovese, 10 percent colorino): pure, intense tart cherry and black coffee flavors, spicy, with soft tannins; $24.
• 2011 Placido Chianti DOCG, Tuscany (100 percent sangiovese); ruby color, light body, black cherry flavors; $10.
• 2011 Bolla Chianti DOCG, Tuscany (90 percent sangiovese, 10 percent canaiolo nero): floral aromas, light body, crisp and fruity; $8.