Wine Tasting in Sicily with Sicilying

When it comes to must-do activities in Italy, wine tasting is high on the list. Sicilian wine is some of the best in Europe and actually in the entire world. But it's not just the quality of the wines that means you must try a wine tasting in Italy, it's also the warmth and presentation that comes with it: Italian's love their food and wine and are proud to share it with you. Sicilying is your go-to website for experiences in Sicily - with over 500 experiences and best price guaranteed, they simply can't be beaten. We tried their Wine Tasting in the Noto Valley, and this is what we thought:

1. Tour of the Cellar and Vineyards

As Tanbay was busy (making this awesome 2016 video), I took my mum along to the wine tour - she knows a lot more about good wine than we do!

We started off with a tour of the cellar and vineyards. This was fascinating! Our lovely guide (Sandra) showed us where each stage of production happens and taught us loads about the history of wine in Sicily. First we had a look at some ancient vats which were the most humungous I've ever seen at 7020 hectolitres 😲 I could have happily swum (or lived) in one of these.

Sandra then showed us the wine-pipes that used to take the wine down to the sea! We could actually see the sea from the winery, and the pipes were raised on columns, kind of like an aqua-duct.

Next she showed us a smaller (albeit still massive) barrel - these could hold 12000 litres of wine and were made from chestnut wood - one of the suitable local woods.

Sandra told us something really interesting - but kind of sad: the barrels needed to be cleaned every year, but it was only the children that could fit inside, so kids as young as eight would be used to clean the barrels - imagine that!! The barrels are so big that the children would have to take ladders in with them to clean it all.

They also used to have seven vats underground, and would even flood the underground corridors with wine and leave it open to the air! Then we were shown one of the vines - the vines are in vegetative rest at the moment so all that needs to be done is the occasional pruning.

We also learnt that although they are not yet certified organic, they have been doing everything in an organic way for the past three years (so they are technically organic, and can be officially organic in a couple of years). The white grapes are picked in August and the red in September. After the grapes are picked there are still lots of stages: first they are put into the stem machine.

This separates the stems from the grapes. Next up comes the crusher machine. It's important to have a very soft crush for white grapes (so the seeds aren't crushed), and a very hard crush for red grapes (so the seeds are crushed). Crushed seeds create tannin which is great for red wine but not for white wine. Then the wine must be fermented. Back in the day, clay/terracotta/other materials were used to try and regulate the temperature. Nowadays, they can measure it and regulate it perfectly with machines.

The white wine is fermented at 16 degrees (Celsius) for 10-12 days, for the acidity. The red is fermented at 26 degrees for 8-10 days to get that great dark colour. After the fermentation process, the wines are transferred into other vats to age. The white gets about 7 months in the vat and then another 2 in the bottle, whereas the red gets a whole year in the vat and roughly another year in the bottle. The winery itself was founded in 2003 with 20 hectares. They have 5 indigenous grapes and 3 international - this is very traditional and dates back to the 1800s, when an American bug came over and destroyed all the vineyards. In the end they were able to get back on track by using an American rootstock but a European top. This problem effected mainland Europe too, and actually reached Sicily a little later.

2. Guided Tasting

We sat in the front of the shop where beautiful jazz music was playing and there was a short video where we could see the whole wine process!! It was cool to see all the steps in action.

Having learnt a lot about wine making, it was time to taste some of the wines and products. We started with the most delicious olive oil I've ever tasted, and we also had something I've never tasted before: must. Must is freshly pressed grape juice and is used in a similar way to vinaigrette. It tasted really sweet, kind of like honey, but really yummy.

Nassa, Grillo

First up was a pure white wine made from the Grillo grape - native to Sicily. It was a 2015 and 13%. It was really delicate and very crisp with no aftertaste. It had a real trace flow of honey. It was paired with three different Sicilian fish: tuna, swordfish and anchovy. These are very typical Italian fishes. I don't actually eat fish but my mum does and she said it was all exquisite: the swordfish was her favourite but the anchovy worked best with the wine.

Note Nere, Nero D'Avola

Next came the most unique red wine I've ever had - it was so different to anything else I'd ever tasted. It was a 2014 vintage, 13.5% and made from the Sicilian Nero D'Avola grape (grown right next to where we were staying). This wine smelt like dates and had the most intense smokey taste. We loved it!

Patrono, Nero d'Avola

If I thought the first red wine was amazing (which I did) it was nothing compared to the second. Although they were both made from the same grape (the Sicilian Nero d'Avola), this second one was older (2013) and thus darker and even more intense and smokey. It was 14%. These two wines were paired with semi sun-dried tomatoes, a furmai cheese and salumi (cured meat). The semi sun-dried tomatoes were absolutely delectable - they had that perfect fruitiness that you get from fresh tomatoes, but the intensity that you get from dry tomatoes. My mum loved the meat and the cheese!

Al Hamen, Moscato Passito

Finally came the star of the show: the dessert wine. This was by far the best dessert wine I've ever tasted. I know I keep saying these things were the best I've ever had, but they truly were! It was 12.5% and came from 2013. It literally tasted like the nectar of the gods: I could taste apricot, citrus fruits, passion fruits, mango - but no alcohol. We loved it!! It was paired with chocolate and cheese. There were four different dark chocolates: nutmeg, salt, brown sugar and 70% cocoa.

3. Optional Shop

At the end there was an option to shop, a real emphasis on the option because there was absolutely no pressure (like there are on some tours). In fact it wasn't even mentioned, but we loved all the products so much we couldn't leave without some goodies! In the end we decided on the second red wine (the Patrono), the sun-dried tomatoes, and the dessert wine!

Wrap Up: Wine Tasting in Sicily with Sicilying

We absolutely loved our afternoon, we learnt much, tasted loads and had so much fun. It was a real treat for the mind and the taste buds. Italians are so amazing with food and wine, it would be awful to come to Sicily and not have an authentic experience and thus I urge you to do this too! To have the best Sicily holiday head over to Sicilying's website, where you can find the best wine tasting in Sicily. We went specifically to the Feudo Ramaddini venue, which was the perfect location for us as we stayed in Noto. If you're on a different end of the island though, don't worry, Sicilying have wine tasting options all over Sicily! Also, here's a video we made about our visit to Sicily -- enjoy :)

Disclaimer: Travelling Weasels were invited as guests of Sicilying but as always all opinions are our own. We loved our morning and hope you do too!

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Travelling through the kyriarchy and weaselling our way out of the rat race - a female travel blogger writing about socially and politically conscious travelling.


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