CHICAGO (AP)–Sicilian wines are arriving in America in record numbers.

Americans won’t need to travel far from their backyard or beach chair to sip Sicilian wine this summer. With millions of bottles expected to arrive on America’s

shores this summer, Sicilian wine will set the tone for a light and easygoing season of socializing. This reflects a significant rise in bottle imports since 2017 and

marks the third year of Sicilia DOC wines making waves in the U.S. As Americans seek out diverse wines that pair with everything from salsa to Sriracha, and look

for lighter wines lower in alcohol for socializing, Wines of Sicilia DOC is responding to the demand. In the last three years, producers across the island have tripled

the acreage dedicated to harvesting red and white grapes under the strict quality controls mandated by Sicilia DOC. And all told, the group now boasts more

than 280 wine producers across the island’s diverse terroir, which means there’s a flavor of Sicilian wine to fit any occasion.

“We are focused on bringing something different to the party that reflects our island’s vibrant character, diversity and mosaic of flavors,” said Antonio Rallo,

president of Sicilia DOC. “When you see “Wines of Sicilia DOC” on the label, you are guaranteed consistency and an excellent wine value for the body, flavor and

character you’ll experience from grapes grown on the island.” Three of Sicily’s most up-and-coming indigenous grapes, Grillo, Nero d’Avola and Frappato, have

gained steam with sommeliers and wine experts in the U.S. who recommend them for their unique character and great pairing ability. Rachael Lowe, sommelier

and beverage director at Spiaggia in Chicago says, “When I pour a Sicilian wine, people are pleasantly surprised by the wine’s bright character, balance and body-

making it a great pairing partner for everything from Mediterranean to Mexican cuisine.”

When building a wine list and making recommendations to patrons and friends, Lowe starts with what people are familiar with and expands beyond traditional

styles to introduce new and interesting grapes and regions. She recommends these new styles from Sicily for summer entertaining:

— If you like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, try Grillo to take the

flavor profile up a notch. White wines from Sicily also tend to be

lower in alcohol, which makes them good day drinking picnic or

poolside wines. Grillo and Grillo blends have a full fruit quality

with eye opening acidity which also makes it a great aperitif to kick

off a dinner party.

— If you like Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero D’Avola has a

backbone that can stand up to everything from burgers to smoky

barbequed ribs, yet also has soft enough tannins that create a nice

finish on the palate. Nero D’Avola’s range is what makes it so

special. It’s a noble wine, with a ruby red color and, depending on

where it’s grown on the island, the flavors span from a lighter,

fruitier raspberry to blackberry, plum and spice.

— If you like Rose, Sicily also produces some excellent roses that

rival those from France or the U.S. Take a step outside your rose

comfort zone and try a Frappato instead. Frappato is a lighter red

wine with strawberry and raspberry notes that some people compare to a

Pinot Noir. This grape has a cult following among many sommeliers and

wine experts because it’s a little unexpected. Put a chill on it for

up to 30 minutes before pouring to kick off an evening alongside some