Italian Wines (Vini)

Italy is the most respected wine-producing country in the world. No other country can boast as many varieties, ranging through almost every possible color, flavor, and style of wine. Italy takes use not only of its 350+ varieties of domestic grapes, but also international varieties to produce wines in a class of their own. Approximately one-fifth of the world’s wine comes directly from Italy’s vineyards; there are over one million throughout the entire country.

History of Italian Wines

The ancient Romans began organizing vineyards in the 2nd century BC, after defeating the Carthaginians. Shortly thereafter, the Romans provided technological advancements in barrel-making and bottling; wine was clearly on their minds. At the time, Italy was using much of its coastline to host wine-making plantations run by slaves. 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 wine-producing regions proudly claim their own subcultures and cuisines, leading to many variations of wine. Piedmont and Tuscany are the Italian leaders in elite-quality wines today. 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.

DOCG Wines:

Albana di Romagna
Asti
Barbaresco
Bardolino Superiore
Barolo
Brunello di Montalcino
Carmignano
Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Chianti
Chianti Classico
Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit
Conero
Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore
Fiano di Avellino
Franciacorta
Gattinara
Cortese di Gavi
Ghemme
Greco di Tufo
Montefalco Sagrantino
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane
Morellino di Scansano
Ramandolo
Recioto di Soave
Roero
Sforzato di Valtellina
Soave Superiore
Taurasi
Torgiano Riserva
Valtellina Superiore
Vermentino di Gallura
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Vernaccia di Serrapet Rona
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

DOC Wines:

Aglianico del Taburno
Aglianico del Vulture
Albugnano
Bianco d’Alcamo
Aleatico di Gradoli
Aleatico di Puglia
Alezio
Alghero
Alta Langa
Alto Adige
Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario
Aprilia
Arborea
Arcole
Assisi
Atina
Aversa
Bagnoli di Sopra
Barbera d’Alba
Barbera d’Asti
Barbera del Monferrato
Barco Reale di Carmignano
Bardolino
Bianchello del Metauro
Bianco Capena
Bianco della Valdinievole
Bianco dell’Empolese
Bianco di Custoza
Bianco di Pitigliano
Bianco Pisano di San Torpé
Biferna
Bivongi
Boca
Bolgheri
Bolgheri Sassicaia
Bosco Eliceo
Botticino
Bramaterra
Breganze
Brindisi
Cacce’ Mmitte di Lucera
Cagnina di Romagna
Caldaro
Campi Flegrei
Campidano di Terralba
Canavese
Candia dei Colli Apuani
Cannonau di Sardegna
Capalbo
Capri
Capriano del Colle
Carema
Carignano de Sulcis
Carmignano
Carso
Castel del Monte
Castel San Lorenzo
Casteller
Castelli Romani
Cellatica
Cerveteri
Cesanese del Piglio
Cesanese di Affile
Cesanese di Olevano Romano
Cilento
Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà
Circeo
Cirò
Cisterna d’Asti
Colli Albani
Colli Altotiberini
Colli Amerini
Colli Berici
Colli Bolognesi
Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto
Colli del Trasimeno
Colli della Romagna Centrale
Colli della Sabina
Colli dell’Etruria Centrale
Colli di Conegliano
Colli di Faenza
Colli di Luni
Colli di Parma
Colli di Rimini
Colli di Scandiano e Canossa
Colli d’Imola
Colli Etruschi Viterbesi
Colli Euganei
Colli Lanuvini
Colli Maceratesi
Colli Martani
Colli Orientali del Friuli
Colli Perugini
Colli Pesaresi
Colli Piacentini
Colli Tortonesi
Collina Torinese
Colline di Levanto
Colline Lucchesi
Colline Novaresi
Colline Saluzzesi
Collio Goriziano
Contea di Scalfani
Contessa Entellina
Controguerra
Copertino
Cori
Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato
Corti Benedettine del Padovano
Cortona
Costa d’Amalfi
Coste della Sesia
Delia Nivolelli
Dolcetto d’Acqui
Dolcetto d’Alba
Dolcetto d’Asti
Dolcetto delle Langhe Monregalesi
Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba
Dolcetto di Dogliani
Dolcetto di Ovada
Donnici
Elba
Eloro
Erbaluce di Caluso
Erice
Esino
Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone
Etna
Falerio dei Colli Ascolani
Falerno del Massico
Fara
Faro
Frascati
Freisa d’Asti
Freisa di Chieri
Friuli Annia
Friuli Aquileia
Friuli Grave
Friuli Isonzo
Friuli Latisana
Gabiano
Galatina
Galluccio
Gambellara
Garda
Garda Colli Mantovani
Genazzano
Gioia del Colle
Girò del Cagliari
Golfo del Tigullio
Gravina
Greco di Bianco
Grignolino d’Asti
Grignolino del Monferrato Caselese
Guardia Sanframondi
Irpinia
Ischia
Lacrima di Morro d’Alba
Lago di Corbara
Lambrusco di Sorbara
Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
Lambrusco Mantovano
Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce
Lamezia
Langhe
Lessona
Leverano
Lison-Pramaggiore
Lizzano
Loazzolo
Locorotondo
Lugana
Malvasia delle Lipari
Malvasia di Bosa
Malvasia di Cagliari
Malvasia di Casorzo d’Asti
Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco
Mamertino di Milazzo
Mandrolisai
Marino
Marsala
Martina Franca
Matera
Matino
Melissa
Menfi
Merlara
Molise
Monferrato
Monica di Cagliari
Monica di Sardegna
Monreale
Montecarlo
Montecompatri Colonna
Montecucco
Montefalco
Montello e Colli Asolani
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Monteregio di Massa Marittima
Montescudaio
Monti Lessini
Moscadello di Montalcino
Moscato di Cagliari
Moscato di Noto
Moscato di Pantelleria
Moscato di Sardegna
Moscato di Scanzo
Moscato di Siracusa
Moscato di Sorso Sennori
Moscato di Trani
Moscato Passito di Pantelleria
Nardò
Nasco di Cagliari
Nebbiolo d’Alba
Nettuno
Nuragus di Cagliari
Offida
Oltrepo Pavese
Orcia
Orta Nova
Orvieto
Ostuni
Pagadebit di Romagna
Parrina
Penisola Sorrentina
Pentro di Isernia
Pergola
Piemonte
Pietraviva
Pinerolese
Pollino
Pomino
Pornassio
Primitivo di Manduria
Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene
Reggiano
Reno
Riesi
Riviera del Brenta
Riviera del Garda Bresciano
Riviera Ligura di Ponente
Romagna Albana Spumante
Rossese di Dolceacqua
Rosso Barletta
Rosso Canosa
Rosso Conero
Rosso di Cerignola
Rosso di Montalcino
Rosso di Montepulciano
Rosso Orvietano
Rosso Piceno
Rubino di Cantavenna
Ruché di Castagnole Monferatto
Salaparuta
Salice Salentino
Sambuca di Sicilia
San Colombano al Lambro
San Gimignano
San Martino della Battaglia
San Severo
San Vito di Luzzi
Sangiovese di Romagna
Sannio
Santa Margherita di Belice
Sant’Agata dei Goti
Sant’Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto
Sant’Antimo
Sardegna Semidano
Savuto
Scavigna
Sciacca
Serrapetrona
Sizzano
Soave
Solopaca
Sovana
Squinzano
Strevi
Taburno
Tarquinia
Teroldego Rotaliano
Terratico di Bibbona
Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri
Terre di Franciacorta
Terreni di San Severino
Torgiano
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
Trebbiano di Romagna
Trentino
Trento
Val d’Arbia
Val di Cornia
Val Polcevera
Valcalepio
Valdadige
Valdadige Terradeiforti
Valdichiana
Valle d’Aosta
Valpolicella
Valsusa
Valtellina Rosso
Velletri
Verbicaro
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Iesi
Verdicchio di Matelica
Verduno Pelavrega
Vermentino di Sardegna
Vernaccia di Oristano
Vesuvio
Vicenza
Vignanello
Vin Santo del Chianti
Vin Santo del Chianti Classico
Vin Santo di Montepulciano
Vini del Piave
Vittoria
Zagarolo

IGT List:

Allerona
Alta Valle della Greve
Alto Livenza
Alto Mincio
Alto Tirino
Arghilla’
Atesino delle Venezie
Barbagia
Basilicata
Benaco Bresciano
Beneventano
Bergamasca
Bettona
Bianco di Castelfranco Emilia
Calabria
Camarro
Campania
Cannara
Civitella d’Agliano
Colli Aprutini
Colli Cimini
Colli del Limbara
Colli del Sangro
Colli della Toscana Centrale
Colli di Salerno
Colli Ericini
Colli Trevigiani
Collina del Milanese
Colline Frentane
Colline Pescaresi
Colline Savonesi
Colline Teatine
Condoleo
Conselvano
Costa Viola
Daunia
Del Vastese
Delle Venezie
Dugenta
Emilia
Epomeo
Esaro
Fontanarosso di Cerda
Forlì
Fortana del Taro
Frusinate
Grottino di Roccanova
Irpinia
Isola dei Nuraghi
Lazio
Lipuda
Locride
Marca Trevigiana
Marche
Maremma Toscana
Marmilla
Mitterberg
Modena
Montenetto di Brescia
Murgia
Narni
Nettuno
Nurra
Ogliastra
Osco
Paestum
Palizzi
Parteolla
Pellaro
Planargia
Pompeiano
Provincia di Mantova
Provincia di Nuoro
Provincia di Pavia
Provincia di Verona
Puglia
Quistello
Ravenna
Roccamonfina
Romangia
Ronchi di Brescia
Rotae
Rubicone
Sabbioneta
Salemi
Salento
Salina
Scilla
Sebino
Sibiola
Sicilia
Sillaro
Spello
Tarantino
Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio
Terre del Volturno
Terre di Chieti
Terre di Veleja
Tharros
Toscano
Trexenta
Umbria
Val di Magra
Val di Neto
Val Tidone
Valcamonica
Valdamato
Vallagarina
Valle Belice
Valle del Crati
Valle del Tirso
Valle d’Itria
Valle Peligna
Valli di Porto Pino
Veneto
Veneto Orientale
Venezia Giulia
Vigneti delle Dolomiti

Types of Grapes

The many regions of Italy are home to a variety of climatic conditions. Some 350 varieties of Italian grapes flourish in this beautiful land. The two main categories of wine grapes are Rosso (red) and Bianco (white). Naturally, since these grapes are used to make wine, each Italian wine is as unique as the grapes that went into it. Key variations within these two categories are as follows:

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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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