I’d been meaning to visit Puglia for years. Its raw beauty, fabulous beaches, crystalline sea and uncomplicated food like burrata cheese, orecchiette pasta with turnip tops and grilled fish make it a destination for beach, food and wine lovers alike. Reading that half of Italy’s olive oil is produced in Puglia and that Puglia produces more wine than any other Italian region didn’t quite prepare me for what I’d see on our three-day August family escape. As we drove across the Pugliese border my eyes were drawn to the whitewashed flat-roofed houses, the sea and seemingly endless olive groves littered with gnarly thick trunked trees and curved grapevines. Greece came to mind.On this trip, my brother-in-law and I — he’s a sommelier — decided to shake things up a tiny bit by seeking out and trying some more obscure Pugliese wines. Part of the joy of wine is discovering new ones, and for wine-lovers learning means tasting. A tasting in a relaxed setting among friends and family can be a memorable occasion. Setting aside Negroamaro and Primitivo, for a list of four local wines (two whites and two reds) well worth discovering take a look at my “Southern Gems“.