Sicily is Italy’s largest, hottest, and driest region.Firriato Consequently, the island produces agricultural goods in abundance-including fruit, artichokes, eggplant, and olives-and boasts one of the most richly diverse cuisines in the country. Sicily has long been known for its white wines, but the reds are undoubtedly gaining speed. Catarratto defines the white wine scene in Sicily: 60 percent of the island is planted with the varietal. Inzolia, another local grape, is blended with Catarratto to make Alcamo DOC wine. Catarratto lends body and Inzolia infuses a fruity, aromatic quality. But the real interest these days is in the deep, dark reds-especially those made from Nero D’Avola, whether it is sampled alone or blended with other varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet, and, most often, Syrah. Wines made of 100 percent Nero D’Avola are rich, well structured, and saturated with the flavor of black cherry fruit. It is blended mainly to create international interest and to establish itself more prevalently in the minds of consumers. Red wine grapes crave dry conditions, heat, and light. Because these qualities are innate to the Sicilian climate, which is often compared to that of Australia, we like to think of Sicily as Italy’s “down under.” Just like Nero D’Avola, the Australian Syrah grape loves heat and exhibits qualities so similar to its Sicilian counterpart that it has prompted people to speculate whether the grape in fact disseminated from Sicily. For centuries, Sicilian winemakers had focused on mass production and the cultivation of grapes for blending purposes. However, due to the recent collapse of the long-held co-op system, dramatic changes have occurred. Technological advancement, coupled with private investments, has made Sicily the region to watch.