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Italy ranked above France as 'world's best wine country'

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Italy ranked above France as 'world's best wine country'
Photo: AFP
08:40 CEST+02:00
Italy has been ranked as the best country in the world for wine lovers in a survey that may irk the French. But which country really has the best wine? Or is it futile to compare?

The index compared 30 different wine producing countries around the world on a series of criteria and determined that Italy was the best country in the world to explore wines.

French wine lovers will point out that this doesn't mean Italy produces the best wine - and the data confirms that.

However when it comes to an overall wine experience from tasting to visiting vineyards and the number of quality wines a country has, Italy came out on top in the ranking by Lastminute.com, which also took into account the cost of travel and accommodation around the wine regions of the world.

Italy finished with the highest score thanks in the main to the fact if offers the most wine tasting experiences - 993 to chose from - of any country.

It has a total of 21 wine regions "covering the full range of grapes and types". 

For the record, Spain finished third, one place ahead of South Africa. Australia was ranked 15th, the US in 27th and the famous wine producing nation of Great Britain came in last in 30th place.

But how did Italy top France?

Partly because of the number of wine tasting experiences - 993 compared to 406 in France, but it also has more vineyards open to the public: 33 compared to 31.

And the average price of a bottle of wine is also cheaper in Italy - €4.77 compared to €5.73.

However the French can console themselves with the knowledge that the quality of their wines far exceeds those of Italy, at least when it comes to awards that is.

The research found that France had 28, 872 award-winning wines compared to 19,160 in Italy.

READ ALSO: Does Italy really produce finer wines than the French?

The debate over whether France or Italy is the best for wine, or which country produces the finest wines has long raged over the Alps.

A general view shows vineyards under the Brolio Castle in the Chianti area. AFP

In April 206 Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi proudly claimed that "Italian wine is better than the wine in France", although it wasn't clear how much chianti he'd had at the time.

But whose wine is actually best? If you ask leading US wine critic Robert Parker - who is famed for his $1 million nose - he'd probably side with France. 
 
After all, out of 300 wines in the world that the American has ranked as perfect in his famed 100-point rating system, 204 have been French
 
And if quality is indeed reflected in price, the Italian premier seems wrong again. According to Wine Searcher's ranking of the 50 most expensive wines in the world, 38 of the top 50 are from France. Italy can boast none. 
 
Some wine experts say it's futile to compare.
 
Bert Celce, a Frenchman running the Wine Terroirs blog about wine tasting in French vineyards said: "You can hardly compare a group of wines 'nation per nation' as each time it's a different story when you drink a particular wine."
 
While others say the two countries have different strengths.
 
Chrissie McClatchi, who runs the Riviera Grapevine blog, told The Local: "Italian wine is fascinating for its diversity, for their grape varieties that you can't find anywhere else.
 
"But French wine is classic. To me, it still is the benchmark for quality and reflection of terroir that most other winemaking countries seek to emulate."
 
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