From England to Italy, the journey into the food and wine world of Sarah Lane

It is hard to list all the skills of Sarah Lane and the roles she covers. We have known her as a journalist (on the prestigious Decanter magazine, where she wrote beautiful words about our territory in the article: Rome wine country: Great wineries to visit), but she is also an expert in tourism (specifically, an “Environmental Hiking Guide”) and a wine taster and sommelier (AIES).

In short, she is a multifaceted figure that we wanted to involve in our exploration of the territory and wines of Cori and Lazio, through the perspectives of both Italian and foreign professionals. Sarah lives in the province of Bologna and has become a well-established promoter of food and wine tourism. In addition to writing for Decanter, she has written and continues to write for numerous other Italian and international publications. Let’s see how she responded to our questions and let’s take note of the insights she provides us.

You have been in Italy for a few years now. How has Italian wine changed during this period? Have you noticed any growth in quality or communication, or perhaps a change?

It has changed tremendously! I have been in Italy for about thirty years now, and it’s wonderful to see how the world of wine has transformed into something exciting, fresh, and youthful. People are now much more curious about what lies behind each label, and the average level of knowledge about wine is constantly growing. Nowadays, people are seeking experiences, and among the experiences that attract the most attention are those related to wine. The overall quality of wine from Italy has also greatly improved during this period. However, I am glad that some of Italy’s historical traditions have remained intact, such as going to the cellar and filling one’s own demijohn for home consumption, and I hope they will not be lost.

You live in Bologna, a land where perhaps food and wine represent the character of the local population the most. Do you believe that the combination of food and lifestyle is the right (or best) way to promote wine from Italy abroad?

Certainly, the allure of wine is not solely found in its taste but in everything that surrounds its production. We are talking about traditions, culture, history, lifestyle, and, of course, gastronomy. These are the right keys to venture beyond Italy’s borders and make an immediate impression, promoting wine alongside other things that may already be familiar.

If I were a wine producer in Italy, what would I like to produce (grape variety or area) and why?

Here in Emilia Romagna, without a doubt, it would be Albana, the native white grape of Romagna, which has been a DOCG since 1987. It is such a versatile variety with extraordinary potential that lends itself to any style, from Metodo Classico sparkling wines to passito (sweet) wines. However, I am generally fascinated by lesser-known native grape varieties, as well as heroic viticulture! The extreme altitudes and terraced vineyards add something extra to the beauty of the landscape and certainly can create unique emotions.

If I could send a direct message to Italian wine producers to change, improve, or modify something, what aspect would I focus on? What do I like the least about the world of Italian wine?

First and foremost, please open your wineries to the public on Sundays! There are still too few that do so. I understand, of course, that small family-owned wineries need a day off, but it is during the weekends that wine enthusiasts are more likely to visit. Visiting wineries is highly appreciated by both foreigners and Italians, especially when combined with a walk or other activities. After getting to know a producer, seeing the winery, and experiencing its atmosphere while tasting wines where they are produced, the memory becomes something very positive, a cherished memory. Encountering the same wines later (in a wine shop or on a wine list) is like reuniting with a friend.

You have written a beautiful article about Rome and its surroundings. Do you think that Lazio can express in its wines the values of already established regions like Campania, Abruzzo, or even Tuscany and Piedmont? What should our region focus on to be better known abroad?

The wines of Lazio are still a hidden gem for many. Despite the great diversity and exceptional wines, they still suffer from a somewhat outdated image. With the DOC Roma, I have seen efforts to connect the wines around the capital with its unparalleled history and culture, and it is a wonderful initiative. However, in Lazio, there are many other wine regions, such as Cori, that deserve more visibility, recognition, and visits. Collaborating and creating networks is a great way to promote a territory along with its wines and other excellences. There are marvelous places that deserve to be better known, just like some of the wines. That’s why I believe that working together is crucial because unity is strength!