December 7, 2022

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Italian runs through the veins of Chicago, the second American destination for Iem’s “Simply Italian Great Wines”

After highlighting Times Square, the beating heart of New York, the daily crossroads moved by millions of people from all over the world, Italian wines, which for several days occupied the podium first with major brands (which bring together 18 of the most important family facts of Italian wine), then with The signed “Wine Experience” Wine Spectator, and finally with “Simply Italian Great Wines” by Iem, flies inland, to Chicago, on the shores of Lake Michigan, which, in an unusually warm autumn, lives up to its moniker. Stormy City, the second leg of the US tour (on stage today, with WineNews), has entered firmly on the map and radar of Italian companies, and it couldn’t have been otherwise. The third largest city in the country, the state capital of Illinois is a less crowded destination with international tourism, but no less interesting. Neo-Gothic architecture makes it unique, recognizable, and fascinating, and the Field Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art, among others, are the forerunners of an intense cultural vibrancy, but it is the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame, the museum dedicated to Italian-American athletes, that has survived, since 1977, the link between the city of Chicago and Italy. Today 3.5% of the city’s population is of Italian ancestry, but the city has managed, over decades, to build a very strong identity, even in terms of gastronomy. “Deep dish pizza,” for example, which has little to do with Italian pizza, if not in shape, and at least in intentions, at the top, is a true symbol of Chicago, and is known throughout the beloved United States of America, among many others, from by Oprah Winfrey. And then, staying on topic, there’s the no less famous “Italian beef”, a sandwich stuffed with very thin slices of boiled roast beef with its rich, spicy broth, which has no less smoky origins, but which became popular in the 1930s thanks to Italian butcher: Pasquale Scala.
The relationship between Chicago and Italy, as you can imagine, is in a strong bond, with moments and more or less heroes, like the tale of Al Capone, the most media-oriented gangster in American history, born in New York but dispatched Well, that’s what he really tells us in Chicago with what was called in the 1920s the “black hand”, that is, the Italian mafia. It was the era of Prohibition, and Al Capone with the smuggling of alcohol contributed not little to the growth of the Italian-American mafia in a city that, in the following decades, passed through many difficult moments, from the protests of 1968 to the sad record, unfortunately still standing, of the cities with the highest crime rate in all of the United States.
But Chicago is also so much more than that. It is the second largest financial center in the United States, and in 2015 generated a total GDP of $360 billion: one-sixth of Italy’s GDP. This is where the futures and commodity markets were born, since the 1970s finance and services have supplanted industry and other activities without major dramas, at the same time the city that gave birth to Michelle Obama, Kanye West and Harrison Ford has become a reference point in the struggle for civil rights. A western city, where restaurants and clubs fill up every evening, and where millions of liters of wine flow alongside Negroni and beer. Also Italian, of course, and just browse the wine list of any of the city’s hundreds of steakhouses, to make it happen. As in any other part of the country, the competition is fierce, primarily with the Napa Valley, then with France, but Italy and its producers start from a privileged position, with 1.1 billion euros of wine. They are exported to the US initially 7 months from 2022, up 11.5% over the same period in 2021, and the dollar has never been strong compared to the euro, which presents an important opportunity to continue doing well. Broaden horizons, and look into the heart of America, in those great, sometimes underestimated cities, which pride themselves on respectable wine culture, as well as economic fundamentals that ought to be given the highest consideration..