It was late May and the weather in the Mediterranean had taken a turn. Malta with an average of 300 sunny days a year, handed us one of those 65 days of gloom as we embarked on the ferry from Malta to Sicily. The sky was formidably grey and the sea was still as we travelled 2 hours across the Mediterranean. We arrived in Pozzallo with pouring rain and all of us dressed for a day by the sea. We hopped on the bus to Catania and closed our eyes, hoping that when we opened them, sunny Sicily would return.
When we arrived in Catania, it was clear we needed a place to escape the rain. We rented a car from Catania and headed straight to a winery I had heard rave reviews about: Gambino Vini.
When I say rave reviews, I am not exaggerating. A fellow traveller suggested the winery and urged me to visit the website and reserve a table because they get fully booked.
“Is that Rihanna?” I asked.
It must be a popular reaction because Gambino Vini has updated their website to exactly that.
Perched on the eastern side of the Etna volcano within a National Park forest, the Gambino vineyards are a little piece of Sicilian heaven.
We drove up winding roads through the forest to the remote location of Gambino vineyards. By the time we reached Gambino Vini, the rain was pouring down. We made a run for it and as soon as we walked inside, we were immediately greeted with a glass of wine. The four of us clanked glasses and our wine disappeared almost instantly. It had been an unexpected journey and we needed a little Sicilian pick me up
One of the sommeliers led us to our table. I had reserved the full tasting on their website – food and wine for €30 per person with a special note to cater for a few vegetarians.
They quickly brought us more wine glasses and refilled the glass we had practically chugged at the door so that we could properly taste the wine with a spectacular cheese, olive and roast vegetable platter. Our sommelier described the white wine with its notes, pointed out the cheese that matched it, and then left us with our platter to settle in.
Over the course of a few hours, our sommelier brought us around four plates including a vegetable soup, roast vegetables and Sicilian couscous. We tasted four of the vineyard’s authentic Sicilian wines including a white, rosé and two reds. After pairing each wine with the right cheese and dish, the sommelier left the bottles on the table so that we could have another glass of our favourite wines.
The wines were all spectacular, just writing about it makes me tempted to order a few bottles online.
We ended the tasting in true Sicilian fashion, with pistachio filled miniature cannolis.
Wine tasting at Gambino Vini was one of the highlight’s of my trip to Sicily. It was the perfect way to get an introduction to the superb food and wine that Sicily has to offer. The wines were all wonderful and we each brought a bottle home. If you’re heading to Sicily, love wine or just looking for something to add to your itinerary, definitely consider visiting this winery!