Italian Wines (Vini)

The ancient Romans began organizing vineyards in the 2nd century BCE, after defeating the Carthaginians. Shortly thereafter, the Romans provided technological advancements in barrel-making and bottling; wine was clearly on their minds. Wine-making became so popular that Italy was running out of land for other agricultural purposes. In AD 92, Emperor Domitian ordered that some of the plantations close in order to provide land for food production. Italians were so proud of their wine that the Romans prohibited any other provinces from producing it. Not until many years later did the Roman Empire relax its laws, allowing the rest of Europe to produce wine.

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Regions of Wine

The characteristics of a given wine are reflective of the culture in which it is made. Each of Italy’s 20 Italian wine-producing regions proudly claim their own subcultures and cuisines, leading to many variations of wine. The following wine-producing regions of Italy are listed in an approximately clockwise order from Northwest to Southeast.

  • Valle d’Aosta
  • Piemonte
  • Liguria
  • Lombardia
  • Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia
  • Veneto
  • Emilia-Romagna
  • Toscana
  • Le Marche
  • Umbria
  • Lazio
  • Abruzzo
  • Molise
  • Campania
  • Basilicata
  • Puglia
  • Calabria
  • Sicilia
  • Sardegna

Italian Wine Classification System

Four subclasses fill out two main categories in this classification system. The ‘Table Wine’ category contains two subclasses; another two fall under the EU category of “Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region.”

Table Wine:

Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) – Wines that do not follow the strict laws and criteria of old Italy, but are still considered high quality. These wines are from a specific region of Italy. This category is home to the red “Super Tuscans.”

Vino da Tavola (VDT) – While few quality Italian wines fall into this classification, most are considered inferior. Italian wines that do not follow current laws also meet the criteria for this category.

Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region:

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)

The main difference between DOC and DOCG wines are that the latter must pass both strict local designation requirements in addition to a blind taste test for quality purposes. According to the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Italy has 34 DOCG and 300+ DOC wines in 120 IGT zones. Both the permitted grape varieties and the zoning of DOC and DOCG wines are more specific than an IGT.

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BIANCO

Arneis

This Piedmontese grape has been cultivated since the 15th century. It is known for its floral scent and crisp texture.

Fiano

Pine and pesto flavors permeate through this herbal wine created from the southwest Italian Fiano grape.

Garganega

This northeastern white Italian grape is the key ingredient in Soave wines. The crisp, dry Soave wines are native to the city of Verona.

Malvasia Bianca

This versatile white grape is grown all over Italy and produces a wide range of white wines.

Moscato

This Piedmontese grape is primarily used to create Moscato d’Asti, a sparkling, semi-sweet white wine.

Nuragus

A southern Sardinian white grape that produces lightly tart wines.

Pigato

This Ligurian white grape is extremely acidic, producing vinified wines.

Pinot Grigio

This extremely commercial grape produces the best wines when it is properly harvested. A skilled wine-maker can expect to create complex and full-bodied white wines known for their crisp, clean taste.

Ribolla Gialla

Pineapple and must scents can be found in the wines produced from the Ribolla Gialla grape, cultivated in Friuli. Ribolla Gialla wines are characterized by their old-world nature.

Tocai Friulano

This white grape produces the highest quality wines of Friuli. The wines are known for their peachy and mineral qualities.

Trebbiano

The most common white grape in Italy. Trebbiano grapes are especially concentrated in Abruzzo, and produce wines known for their pale color and easy drinkability.

ROSSO

Aglianico

This southern Italian grape, mainly grown in Campania and Basilicata, produces strong, rustic wines. It is known for its spicy flavor and thick skin.

Barbera

A northern Italian grape, primarily grown in Piedmont and Lombardy. Barbera wines are very dark in color with cherry-like fruitiness. Wines from the Barbera grape are known for their low acidity. Barbera Superiore and Barbera Barricato are two quality wines of this grape.

Ciliegolo

Native to Tuscany, this grape is now grown primarily in central Italy. Combine Ciliegolo with Montepulciano to create Torgiano wine.

Corvina

The famous Venetian wines Amarone and Valpolicella are made from the Corvina grape. These wines are dark and fruity with high aging capacities.

Dolcetto

Wild blackberry and herb flavors accompany the grape taste of wines made with Dolcetto. This particular variety of grape is native to Piedmont.

Gaglioppo

Full-bodied, high alcohol red wines are made from this southern Italian grape. These wines are strong, and are sometimes blended with a small amount of white wine, or left to soften in the bottle for extended periods of time.

Lagrein

Deep and intense red wines with high acidity and low pH are made with the Lagrein grape. Extended maturation removes some of the otherwise high astringency of this wine. A berryfruit and sour cherry finish can be found in Lagrein wines.

Lambrusco

Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy are home to Lambrusco. The five DOC wines made from this grape are Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, Lambrusco Reggiano, and Lambrusco Mantovano. The high-yielding Lambrusco grape produces frothy, slightly sparkling red wines.

Malvasia Nera

Sweet, aromatic wines from Piedmont are produced from Malvasia Nera. These wines undergo the drying process known as “passito” several times.

Monica

Young red wines are produced from this famous Sardinian grape. The fruity Monica di Cagliari and the dry Monica di Sardegna are products of this grape.

Montepulciano

Wines of light acidity and tannin are produced from this grape from Abruzzo. They are known for their smooth flavor and plum-like fruit.

Nebbiolo

Light fog covers most of the region in Piedmont where this autumn grape is grown, hence the translation “little fog.” Elegant and complex wines such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Ghemme, Inferno, Sassella and Sforzato.

Negroamaro

The spicy, dark red Salice Salentino is produced from this grape primarily grown in Puglia. The literal translation of Negroamaro is “black and bitter.”

Nerello Mascalese

These Sicilian and Sardinian grapes are key ingredients in Etna Rosso and Corvo Rosso.

Nero d’Avola

This Sicilian grape produces robust, inky wines. It has been given the nickname “The Barolo of the South.”

Pignolo

The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is the primary location of this red grape used to produce Colli Orientali del Friuli. Plum and blackberry flavors can be found in the rich, full-bodied wines of the low-yielding Pignolo.

Primitivo

Robust red wines of high alcohol content are produced from this grape from the heel of Italy. Flavors of blackberry, anise, and pepper can be found in these wines.

Refosco

This dark, northern Italian grape produces strong, tannic wines. They are typically dark-violet in color with plum, currant, and wild berry flavors. After aging, these wines become pleasantly aromatic.

Sagrantino

These famous, rustic and inky wines produced from the Sagrantino grape are native to Umbria. Sagrantino produces wines excellent for aging.

Sangiovese

This grape produces earthy Tuscan wines such as Chianti Classico, Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, and Montefalco Rosso. Sangiovese is considered to be Italy’s most popular grape for wine-making.

Schiopettino

High acidity and low alcohol levels characterize this northeastern Italian grape. It is known for the full-bodied, aromatic wines it produces.

Teroldego

This spicy red grape, with hints of pine and almond, is known for producing Teroldego Rotaliano. It is grown primarily in the northeastern parts of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.

Uva di Troia

These violet-colored grapes from Puglia are used in producing Rosso Barletta, Rosso Canosa, Castel del Monte, Cacc’e Mmitte di Lucera, Orta Nova, and Rosso di Cerignola.

2 thoughts on “Italian Wines (Vini)”

  1. I have a bottle of red wine witch is about three foot tall has a number on it 344-f1 and says product of Italy and glass is a basket of grapes with grape vine coming out and all the way to top. Could you tell me anything about it. Thank you.

    Reply

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