At last, after what feels like an inordinately-long wait, the 6 Nations kicks off again this weekend.
The first match is scheduled for tonight, but Ireland will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon in Rome to get their campaign started.
So it seems to me that this is the perfect time to take a look at some Italian wines. Italian wines have always been very popular here in Ireland, and I think the reason for this is that they are such great food-matching wines.
Italian wines by nature are designed to go with food, so whatever you do this weekend, and whether or not you plan to watch the rugby, Italy has a wine to match pretty much any dish you plan to serve.
When our boys take to the field in the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow at 2.30, I plan to be sitting down to enjoy a glass of one these delicious wines below, the only question now is which one?
Rizzardi Frizzante Prosecco (€14.99 or 2 for €25) is an amazing frizzante version of the brilliant extra-dry Prosecco from this peerless old Veneto house. This wine strikes the perfect balance of ripe pear fruit and fine crisp backbone.
Ideal Food Match: Goujons of Lemon Sole with Tartar Sauce
Gavi La Battistina (€11.99 down from €14.49) is a very impressive single estate Gavi made from old vines planted in a highly beneficial chalk rich soil. Un-oaked, the wine itself has abundant minerality, refreshingly cool apple and pear fruit and an impressively long finish.
Ideal Food Match: Lemon & Rosemary Roast Chicken
Bertani Le Quaiare (€14.99 down from €17.49) is a single-vineyard Lugana of incredible quality, it is mineral-driven and complex, boasting subtle aromas of wild honey and blanched pear while fresh lemon rises from the glass. This is backed up by a similarly interwoven palate that oozes class and is comparable to good white Burgundy.
Ideal Food Match: Wild Mushroom Risotto
San Felice Contrada Toscana (€12.99 down from €15.99) was created for the 'Contrade' of Siena as the pouring wine at their traditional banquets during the days of the 'Palio'. The wine was so successful it has become a part of San Felice's main portfolio. The Contrada is mostly Merlot and Sangiovese with a dollop of Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a gorgeous, modern take on a Tuscan wine; excellent fruit with a mouth-watering wild cherry accent.
Ideal Food Match: Linguini al Ragu
Tenute Rubino (€14.99 down from €18.99) is an extremely well-made juicy Primitivo from a family-owned estate in Puglia. This wine sings with mouth-watering wild cherry fruit and is backed up by subtle oak and soft spice, it is full-bodied but silky-smooth, and is a definite choice for fans of big, flavoursome reds.
Ideal Food Match: Char-Grilled Rib-Eye Steak
All in all though, I think that’s enough praise heaped on the Italians for now, Come on Ireland!