Suppose you ask a person from Parma, a person from Brindisi and a person from Friuli to draw you a bunch of Malvasia grapes.
Before your astonished eyes, you will see a pyramid with golden yellow berries, a cone with purple-black berries and, finally, a cylinder with yellowish-green berries. What’s happened? Are you wondering if the three of them have drunk too much Malvasia (and in this case, to confuse you further, we are not talking about grapes but wine)? Well no, each of them is simply describing one of the many grape varieties that are called Malvasia in Italy: the Parma one refers to Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, the Brindisi one to Malvasia Nera di Brindisi and the Friuli one to Malvasia Istriana.
Numerous grape varieties bear this name, in fact, well beyond the three mentioned above, so much so that as early as 1963 Giovanni Dalmasso, agronomist and author of publications of reference for Italian viticulture, wrote, “If we were to list all the grape varieties that more or less legitimately bear the name of Malvasia – and thus try to establish which are correct in keeping this name and which are not – we would have to occupy several pages without hope of succeeding”.