How the Perfect Soil Made Your Favorite Italian Wine (INFOGRAPHIC)

They say behind every great bottle of wine is the perfect grape, but all serious wine lovers know it goes much deeper — all the way down to the growing soil itself. The French call it terroir, a direct reference to territory or province, which can be extended to include climate, local flora and fauna, and the physical makeup of the soil.

In Italy, soil composition really shines through its grape varieties, with each region boasting its own microclimate and rich geological history — a unique “special sauce.” Unlike other European wine-growing regions, Italy’s soil was shaped by its mighty volcanoes, from Colli Albani to Vesuvius to Mount Etna. Today, a considerable number of vineyards appear on the slopes of legendary and dormant volcanoes that extend from the Dolomites to Sicily and Campania. In the latter case, the soil is a direct result of volcanic activity related to the creation of the Apennines.

But you don’t have to be a geologist, viticulturist, or even a decent gardener to appreciate the many soils of Italy. Chances are, you’ve already tasted its many fruits by way of one of these popular wines.

The article is sponsored by the Italian Trade Agency.