ITALIAN WINE REGIONS
If you’re looking to explore Italian wine, you’ll want to get to know the country’s various regions. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most important Italian wine regions. Italian wine production is spread throughout the country. Northern Italy is home to some of the best Italian red wines such as Barolo, as well as some great white wines. The Veneto region is currently the leading wine producing area, with around one quarter of all wine produced in Italy being made here. Trentino-Alto Adige is a small region bordering Austria and Switzerland where Gewürztraminer white and sparkling wine is produced. The Piedmont region is home to some of Italy’s most celebrated red wines, including Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Dolcetto. The region’s hillside vineyards produce wines with intense flavors and firm tannins.Central Italy is another important Italian wine region, stretching from the Tyrrhenian Coast to the Adriatic sea. The regions of Tuscany, Lazio, Abruzzo, Marche and Umbria. Tuscany is one of the most famous wine regions in the world, and for good reason. The region’s wines, including Chianti and Super Tuscan wines, are renowned for their balance and complexity. Tuscan wines tend to have firm tannins and high acidity. Lazio is home to Frascati wine as well as Cesanese red wine, while the Marche region produces excellent Verdicchio DOCGs. Abruzzo produces fine Montepulciano red wine as well as Cerasuolo rosé wine, and Umbria is known for its Orvieto DOC wine.
Southern Italy is not to be outdone, with robust red wines such as Primitivo and white wines like Vermentino. The island of Sicily is known for its rich, fruity red wines, made from the Nero d’Avola grape. The island’s white wines, including the fortified Marsala wine and the sweet Passito di Pantelleria, are also worth trying. Campania is home to some of Italy’s most iconic wine styles, such as Falanghina and Aglianico. Campanian wines are known for their intense flavors and high acidity. Puglia produces some interesting red wines, including Primitivo and Nero di Troia. Good Sardinian wines include Vermentino and Cannonau.
ITALIAN WINE CLASSIFICATIONS
Italian wine labels can be confusing, but we’re here to help. The three main types of Italian wine classifications are: Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT)Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)Here’s a breakdown of each:Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) wines are made in a specific Italian region and are usually higher quality than table wine (vino da tavola). However, they don’t have to follow as many production guidelines as DOC and DOCG wines. Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) wines are made in a specific region in Italy which must follow strict production guidelines. DOC wines must be aged for a minimum amount of time before they can be sold.Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) is the highest level of Italian wine classification. These wines must follow strict production guidelines and be aged for a minimum amount of time. DOCG wines are also subject to regular quality control checks.
ITALIAN RED WINE
Italian red wines are typically fruity and full-bodied, with strong tannins that give them a characteristic peppery flavor. Having said that, the taste of Italian reds varies depending on the specific grapes used and where they’re from.
For example, reds from Tuscany tend to be fruitier, while those from Piedmont are known for being full-bodied. Now let’s look at some of the best Italian red wines.
Barbera is a medium-bodied red wine that is known for its fruity flavors and aromas. Barbera wines are made with the grape of the same name.
Chianti is a light to medium-bodied red wine that is characterized by its tart cherry flavors and aromas. Chianti wines must be produced with at least 70% Sangiovese grapes, while Chianti Colli Senesi must contain 75% Sangiovese, and Chianti Classico must include 80% Sangiovese grapes or more. Other Italian grape varieties such as Canaiolo, Colorino and Ciliegiolo can be used as the secondary component.
Morellino di Scansano DOCG is a full-bodied red wine from the Maremma region of coastal Tuscany. Made from at least 85% Sangiovese grapes, this delicious wine has a stunning ruby-red color and pairs well with food such as pappardelle and beef.
Brunello di Montalcino is a superior Tuscan red wine made exclusively from the Sangiovese grape variety.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is another great Tuscan wine, which contains a majority of Sangiovese grapes.
Nero d’Avola is a Sicilian grape variety and full-bodied red wine that is known for its spicy flavors and aromas. Nero d’Avola wines pair well with steaks, meatloaf and beef stew.
Pinot Noir wines, known in Italy as Pinot Nero, can be found in Lombardy, Tuscany, Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige. Although Pinot Noir is not native to Italy, it suits the terroir of some of the Northern Italian regions.
Amarone is a high quality Italian red wine that comes from the Valpolicella region of North East Italy. Made from partially dried grapes in a process known as appassimento, Amarone wines are full-bodied and vibrant.
Barolo is one of the most expensive Italian wines and also one of the most famous. This Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wine comes from the Piedmont area of Italy and is made from the Nebbiolo grape.
Italian White Wine
Italian white wines are often made using just one type of grape. The most popular white Italian grapes are Trebbiano, Vermentino and Pinot Grigio, although there are many others to choose from.
Other popular types of white Italian grapes include Gavi, Moscato, Soave and Friulano. In terms of types of white wine from Italy, it’s worth trying some of the following:
Chardonnay is Italy’s third most planted grape. It produces a medium- to full-bodied white wine that is known for its creamy flavors and aromas.
Gewürztraminer is an aromatic white wine that flourishes in the cool climate of Northern Italy. It pairs well with spicy food and blue cheeses.
Sauvignon Blanc is grown mainly in the north east of Italy, particularly in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto. This fresh, medium-bodied wine works well with seafood, fish and chicken dishes.
Verdicchio is a white grape variety found mostly in the Marche area of central Italy. One of the best types of Italian dry white wine, Verdicchio has a subtle flavor with complex citrus and floral aromas.
Italian Sparkling Wine
Italian sparkling wine is the third most popular type of Italian wine. There are many different types of sparkling Italian wine, each with their own unique flavor. Some of the most popular types of Italian sparkling wine include Prosecco, Franciacorta, and Asti Spumante.
Prosecco is a light to medium-bodied sparkling wine that is known for its crisp flavors and aromas. Prosecco wines are made from a blend of grapes, with at least 85% being the Glera grape variety. This bubbly wine is perfect for celebrations.
Franciacorta is a medium-bodied sparkling wine that is made in the heart of Lombardy. Franciacorta Franciacorta DOCG wines are made according to the méthode Champenoise from Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Bianco.
Asti Spumante is a sweet, light-bodied sparkling wine that is known for its fruity flavors and aromas. Asti Spumante wines are produced in southeastern Piedmont, particularly in Alba and Asti. As Asti Spumante wine has D.O.C.G. status, it must be made only from Moscato Bianco grapes.