When most people think of Italian wine, Tuscany comes to mind. Few people realize that an important wine-producing region for Italy is located in the hills just south of Rome.
Rome is located within the Lazio region. With its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and rich volcanic soils, this area has prime conditions for grape-growing.
Of the wines coming from the Lazio region, Frascati is the most well-known. Frascati wines can be dry, sweet and sparkling wines. Most of the grape varietals are white, but there are also red frascati wines.
A town named Frascati also exists. No coincidence that it’s quite wine-centric!
Even as far back as medieval times, the wine producers in this area sought a way to sell more wine in order to recoup the money they spent during the harvest season. The concept of a fraschetta was born from this need. A fraschetta is a typical tavern providing a space for people to gather. As long as wine was being purchased and consumed, Italian families were allowed to bring their own food to prepare and eat inside the tavern. This was an economic way to spend a weekend afternoon, enabling families and groups of friends to socialize outside the home without breaking the bank.
Fraschetta tradition also spawned the current Italian cultural norm of pane e coperto (cover charge). Historically in fraschettas, you paid for your ‘cover’ of a place to sit to enjoy your food and wine. This practice continues in restaurants throughout Italy today, where each customer is charged a fee for table seating and bread to accompany the meal.
A few ‘bring-your-own-food’ fraschettas still exist today. However the majority of places carrying the fraschetta name in the area around Rome continue to sell homemade wine in carafes but now offer food for purchase. Traditionally, porchetta (roasted pork seasoned with fennel and herbs) was the best accompaniment to the wine in fraschettas. Therefore porchetta can usually be found on menus in addition to antipasti such as cheeses, cold meats, olives and octopus and a few classic pasta dishes.
Interested in trying Frascati wine and other regional wines, tasting porchetta, visiting a fraschetta, or all three(!)? Let Olive Tree Hill arrange a memorable outing for you in the Roman countryside.