Italy is one of the major producers of particularly well-known and appreciated fine wines in the world. Many of the best quality wines are DOC and DOCG denomination wines. Today, great wines are produced in almost every Italian region, with peaks of excellence, such as in Piedmont, Veneto, Tuscany, Campania, Apulia, Sicily, and Sardinia with extensive areas of great winemaking tradition.
The organoleptic characteristics of a wine depend on the vine and many other factors such as the climate or the composition of the soil and the techniques used for winemaking. The famous red wines have more or less intense ruby/garnet colors and are generally characterized by long aging in the cellar in wooden barrels. This makes the famous Italian red wines full-bodied and persistent on the palate, with intense and spicy aromas depending on the aging time. Reds are famous Italian wines that go well with dishes based on red meat or game and go perfectly with aged cheeses.
Wine Regions in Italy
Piedmont has been producing wine since ancient times, and in addition to Barolo, there are several famous productions throughout the world, such as Barbera. The different production areas are united by the type of cultivation of the vines, which occurs almost exclusively on hilly terrain, giving grapes suitable above all for red wines for aging and white wines.
As for Barolo, it requires aging of at least 38 months, 18 of which in wooden barrels, an element that characterizes the strong personality of Barolo itself. Among the Piedmontese wines, we also mention Nebbiolo, for many the noblest of Italian vines, Barbaresco from Langhe area, which, together with Roero and Monferrato, have recently been included in the Unesco World Heritage List.
Also, famous Piedmontese wines are Dolcetto d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti. Asti also gives its name to an area known above all for the homonymous sparkling wine. Some Piedmontese white wines have also conquered the DOCG: Gavi or Cortese and Erbaluce di Caluso.
Read also: Wineries in Piedmont
Liguria, despite being exposed to the sea, is made up almost exclusively of mountains and hills and boasts a centuries-old winemaking tradition, mainly concentrated in the provinces of Imperia and La Spezia. Some of the Ligurian wines are also appreciated and known internationally, such as the Golfo del Tigullio Bianco, a typical wine produced in this region with a delicate and persistent smell or the red Riviera Ligure di Ponente Rossese or the Colli di Luni Vermentino.
Trentino Alto Adige
Trentino Alto Adige is the northernmost region of Italy, with a completely mountainous territory. The Alto Adige area is famous for some fine and appreciated DOC wines, especially white wines such as Alto Adige Pinot Bianco or the aromatic Alto Adige Valle Venosta Traminer. In the Trentino area, we also find important red wines such as Teroldego Rotaliano and famous whites such as Trentino Muller-Thurgau.
Lombardy, thanks to its considerable extension, boasts several DOC areas, producing very different wines. The Franciacorta and Valtellina wines are top-rated. Among the most famous fine wines of Lombardy, we also find the Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero and the Franciacorta Spumante.
Read: Wineries in Franciacorta
Veneto is one of the main wine-producing regions in Italy. The vines, which make both white and red wines, are grown both in the flat area, rich in waterways, and on the hills distinguished by fertile soil and a mild climate. The most appreciated Venetian wines are produced in the province of Verona, where we find, among others, Bardolino, Soave, Lugana, Valpolicella, and the famous Amarone della Valpolicella, while moving towards the province of Vicenza, we meet the Lessini Durello wine, Gambellara, and the Colli Berici. The Colli Euganei are made into wine in the province of Padua, while the Montello and the Colli Asolani are concentrated between Treviso and Venice.
Among the dry sparkling wines suitable for an aperitif, we cannot mention the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, the Brut version, in the traditional Extra Dry version to accompany an appetizer.
Moving on to white wines to remember the native vines such as Soave Classico and Gambellara Classico. Even for lovers of rosé wines, Veneto can offer a product of great tradition, such as Bardolino Chiaretto Classico.
Emilia-Romagna produces many different wines, some of which are known and appreciated internationally, such as Lambrusco. Among the red wines the Sangiovese grape is highly appreciated, found as Colli d’Imola Sangiovese, Colli di Faenza Sangiovese and Sangiovese di Romagna. Another important grape is Trebbiano Romagnolo.
Marche’s territory is characterized by being entirely hilly or mountainous, being practically absent of any flat terrain. The Doc and Docg areas of Marche are a dozen and mainly wind along the coastal strip. Among the best-known wines, we find the precious Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, which comes from the area around the city of the same name. Simultaneously, the Bianco dei Colli Maceratesi is produced in a strip that winds from the coast to the hinterland. The Rosso Piceno comes instead from a large territory along the southern part of the coast.
Tuscany produces many fine wines, especially reds, and the quality of its production has ensured that these are known and appreciated throughout the world. The entire region boasts numerous wine production areas, which have made the Sangiovese grape great, such as Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino. The region is hilly and has a mild climate thanks to the extensive coastline overlooking the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea. This particular climate has made possible the production of fine wines such as the famous Chianti Classico, the much appreciated Brunello di Montalcino (whose peculiarity is certainly its ability to age for a long time, improving more and more, becoming more and more valuable with the passing of years), the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the Tignanello di Antinori, the Bolgheri Sassicaia, the Montecucco and the Ansonica. Among the white wines, we remember the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced in Tuscany’s small area among Siena, Pisa, and Florence. Among the great Tuscan wines we cannot fail to mention the production of the Marchesi de ‘Frescobaldi, with Brunello Castel Giocondo, Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina, and with the wines of the Tenuta dell’Ornellaia.
Read also: Wineries in Chianti
Lazio has numerous production areas of almost always white wines, also very different due to the diversity of soil composition. The most famous area is the Castelli Romani area, which extends south-east of Rome, where Frascati, Marino, and Castelli Romani wines are produced. There are numerous wines from indigenous vines such as Nerobono di Cori, Bellone, Arciprete bianco, Moscato di Terracina and Greco. Cesanese del Piglio and Atina instead are grown in the province of Frosinone. Other production areas are Tuscia, with wines such as Tarquinia, Colli Etruschi Viterbesi, and Colli della Sabina.
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is probably the most representative wine in Abruzzo, being produced from the Montepulciano grape. The Abruzzo DOC wines are: Abruzzo,Montepulcianod’Abruzzo,Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.
The predominantly hilly area and the mild climate make the Campania region suitable for the cultivation of various vines, which produce many wines, both white and red. Some of the well-known Campania and Docg wines are Sannio Rosso and Solopaca Bianco, a yellow wine similar to straw. Characteristics are the DOC areas with volcanic soil, such as Campi Flegrei and Vesuvius, where excellent white wines are produced. Greco di Tufo is another of the famous Italian wines with DOCG and produced in Campania. It is one of the few famous Italian white wines that lends itself well to long aging and is also produced as a sparkling wine.
Apulia, composed of plains and hills and surrounded by the seas, has a mild climate, typically Mediterranean and particularly suitable for agriculture and viticulture, which are among the main economic resources of the region. Among the most famous Apulian fine wines, we find the much appreciated Primitivo di Manduria, the Negroamaro di Terra d’Otranto, and the Castel del Monte. Primitivo di Manduria is a wine produced mainly in the province of Taranto. It has an intense red color that tends to purple. The aroma and flavor are fruity and become more full-bodied with aging. The production vine’s origin is uncertain, but there seems to be a strong similarity with a vine widely cultivated in Australia and California.
Calabria boasts a very ancient winemaking tradition; the area was called Enotria (land of wine). The vineyards still cultivated today are those imported by the Greeks during the pre-Roman colonization. To the north, at the foot of Mount Pollino, San Vito di Luzzi’s grapes are grown. Immediately south of Cosenza, we find Donnici wine, while on the west coast, the various declinations of Lamezia wine are produced, grown around the town of the same name. In the extreme south of the region, on the edge of the Aspromonte, a small area is dedicated to the cultivation of the Greco di Bianco grape. Simultaneously, not far away on the east coast, the town of Bivongi produces the homonymous white, red, and rosé wines. The Sant’Anna di Isola di Capo Rizzuto wine is grown in the province of Crotone.
In Sicily, Italy’s southernmost island and region, the wine vine gives life to fine red and white wines. The largest production area is located in the western part of the island, in Trapani and Palermo, where Marsala and Alcamo are produced. In the south-eastern part, between Ragusa and Syracuse, the Cerasuolo di Vittoria wine, Moscato di Noto and Moscato di Siracusa are produced. Nero d’Avola is the most common grape variety in Sicily. It is used to obtain one of the most famous Italian wines, a wine with a ruby red color and a fruity aroma. As for the smaller islands, we find Malvasia delle Lipari and Moscato and Passito di Pantelleria. Zibibbo is a wine that is obtained from the vineyard of the same name, of Arab origin. It is grown mainly in Sicily on the island of Pantelleria but also in the Trapani area. It is a fine Italian wine that goes well with raw seafood and white meat fish. The wine is sweet and has a very distinctive scent. It is also produced in different versions such as passito, moscato, or sparkling wine and is excellent to accompany Sicilian pastries.
Viticulture in Sardinia is very ancient, but only recently, since the 1970s have typical wines been recognized nationally and internationally, obtained from vines grown on predominantly calcareous and sandy soil. Among the most characteristic wines, we remember the Nuragus of Cagliari, a white wine that goes well with the seafood dishes prevalent on the island; it is produced in the Cagliari provinces and Oristano. Cannonau di Sardegna DOC is the region’s most prestigious red wine, traditionally paired with typical Sardinian meat dishes. The vine is grown mainly in Ogliastra and the Nuorese area. Returning to white wines, Vermentino di Sardegna DOC is accompanied by seafood appetizers, fish and crustaceans, white meats, and non-aged cheeses; it is the most famous white wine of Sardinia, grown mainly in the Gallura area.