Throughout the Euganean Hills (Colli Euganei in Italian), wine production is a living art, aided by the natural features of the vineyards, the area's favorable climate and rich volcanic soil. These rolling hills have been famous for their wines since the Roman times and were the private vineyard of the "Serenissima Republic of Venice".
Evidence of the production of wine in the area goes back to the first millennium BCE, and grape growing and wine making has been conducted without interruption since then. The Italian poet Francesco Petrarca became so fascinated by the Euganei Hills, that he bought a house in the hills, at Arquà, in 1373. His choice was dictated in part by the excellent quality of wine produced in the immediate area.
According to a custom that was widely used throughout Italy, shoots of several varieties of grape were planted in a single vineyard. Today, most vineyards have been replanted and employ modern methods of grap growing and winemaking. Several also specialize, with space reserved for Moscato, Tocai, Merlot and Cabernet vines.
The variet of wines from the Euganean Hills include the classic Colli Euganei White, with its typical straw-yellow color and jasmine scent, the full-flavored Cabernet Franc and robust Cabernet Sauvignon, the Chardonnay, a very sweet, yellow Moscato, the elegant Merlot, the pleasing Novello, the dry Pinello, Pinot Bianco, the sparkling Serprino, the Tocai Italico, and the citrusy Fior d'Arancio.
Wine enthusiasts can sample local wines in charming inns in old boroughs or in atmospheric cellars of the prestigious Veneto villas that dominate the countryside. Winemaking activity is also silently carried out in hermitages and abbeys.
The most famous Venetian wine, Prosecco, comes from the name of a grape grown in the area north of Venice. It is usally associated with the sparkling wine made from this late ripening grape. There are dry sparkling (spumante) and semi-sparkling (frizzante) Proseccos and they both have a characteristic bitter aftertaste.
Like other sparkling wines, Prosecco is served chilled. Most commonly it is served unmixed, but it also appears in several mixed drinks. It was the original main ingredient in the Bellini cocktail, and it can also replace champagne in other cocktails such as the Poinsettia. Prosecco is also used in the Italian mixed drink Sgroppino (with vodka and lemon sorbet).