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WINES OF ITALY

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Italy has a rich and diverse wine heritage dating back more than two thousand years. Famous for its bewildering diversity of both grape varieties and wine styles, Italy is also significant for the sheer volume of wine it produces: just over 4 billion liters (around 1.06 billion US gallons) in 2012, from 800,000 hectares (197,700 acres) of vineyards. It is rivaled in this regard only by France and Spain.

Managing and marketing such a vast wine portfolio is no easy task, particularly in today's highly competitive wine market. The Italian government's system of wine classification and labeling uses a four-tier quality hierarchy made up of more than 500 DOCG, DOC and IGT titles.

Italy is divided into 20 administrative regions, all of which produce wine to some extent, and all of which contain various wine regions. The most significant, when both quality and quantity are taken into consideration, are Tuscany, Piedmont and Veneto.

Each region has its flagship wine styles. Some are famous because they are produced in large volumes and can be found all over the world, others because of their consistently high quality. Italy's vineyards are home to more than 2,000 grape varieties, many of which are on the brink of extinction.

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