What Are The Best Italian Wine Varieties?
There are literally hundreds of Italian wine varieties. Here’s a guide to the most important and best tasting varieties.
- Asti: Sparkling wine made from Moscato grapes around Asti, in the Piedmont region. Deliciously sweet, low in alcohol, with pronounced fruity and floral flavors. Its freshness is best enjoyed young.
- Frascati: From the Frascati area, south of Rome, made from Trebbiano grapes. Dry and light-bodied, with crisp acidity and subdued flavours.
- Gavi: Dry, medium-bodied wine made from Cortese grapes in the Gavi area of Piedmont. It’s usually crisp and un-oaked with delicate notes of honey, apples, and minerals.
- Pinot Grigio: Generally light-bodied, dry, and crisp, with subdued aromas. It’s made from Pinot Gris grapes, mainly in northeastern Italy. Wines from Collio or Alto-Adige DOCs are usually the best examples.
- Soave: Made from Garganega grapes in the town of Soave and surroundings hills of the Veneto region. Soaves is dry, crisp, and light- or medium-bodied, with refreshing flavours of peach, honeydew melon and orange zest. It has a distinctive saltiness, with hints of fresh herbs.
- Amarone: Rich, full-bodied wine made from semi-dried Corvina grapes, produced in the Veneto region. Dry and firm, but with a ripe, concentrated fruitiness. Pairs well with rich, savoury foods or cheeses.
- Barbaresco: Like Barolo, Barbaresco is made from the Nebbiolo grape, but generally lighter in body and more approachable due to the milder tannins. Best enjoyed around 8 to 15 years of age.
- Barbera: A delicious varietal wine produced around the Piedmont region. Dry, generally light or medium-bodied, with intense berry flavours, mouth-watering acidity, and low tannins. It’s generally drunk young and is particularly versatile with food. Some of the best examples are made in the Alba or Asti production zones.
- Barolo: Dry, full-bodied and bold wine made from Nebbiolo grapes in the Piedmont region. Barolo has high tannins, complex aromas and flavours of berries, flowers, tar, herbs, and earth. Barolo ages well, and can be cellared for 20 or more years.
- Brunello di Montalcino: Full-bodied, intense wine made from Sangiovese grapes grown in the Montalcino area of Tuscany. It is dry and highly tannic, and best enjoyed when at least 15 years old.
- Chianti: Very dry, medium-bodied, moderately tannic wine with beautiful cherry flavours. Chianti is made from Sangiovese grapes grown in the Chianti area of Tuscany. As a popular wine with many appellations, some wines are good when young. The pricier ones are generally more concentrated and worth cellaring for a few years.
- Dolcetto: Fruity, with low acidity and medium tannins. Dolcetto has distinctive aromas of raspberry, cranberry, liquorice and prunes, with a slightly bitter finish. Some winemakers produce a lighter version, by limiting skin contact. Others macerate the skins for longer to produce a more tannic version.
- Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Generally medium-bodied and fruit forward, with flavours of red cherries and herbal notes. It is made from the Montepulciano grape, in the Abruzzo region. Lighter examples are smooth and easy to drink; the more concentrated and denser examples are especially delicious.
- Salice Salentino: Dry, full-bodied wine made from Negroamaro grapes in the Puglia region of southern Italy. Generally has intense aromas and flavours of ripe plum, baked fruit, with a rich and bold texture. Best paired with hearty foods.
- Valpolicella: Medium-bodied wine made from Corvina grapes in the Valpolicella area of the Veneto region. Dry, lean, and moderately tannic, Valpolicella has intense aromas of cherries. Examples from single-vineyard producers are especially good.
- Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: Medium-bodied, and dry, with red cherry flavours. This wine is made from Sangiovese grapes in Montepulciano, in the Tuscany region.
How To Choose From The Italian Wine Varieties
So now that you know a bit more about Italian wine varieties, how should you decide which one to choose? It really depends on what specific tastes and flavour profiles you like. And the only way to know what you like is to try! Regardless of what the “experts” say, the best wine is the one you enjoy the most!
It’s no secret that we love Italian alpine wines, our wine variety is based on this passion – especially those from the Piedmont region. For a medium bodied, earthy red, try Barbera or Langhe Freisa. For full bodied, bold and earthy, try Barolo. For a bold, fruit forward wine, try Dolcetto. For a refreshing, fruity white, try Soave.
Last, relax! With more than 500 unique Italian wine varieties, there’s bound to be one that suits your tastes.
You’ll Our Italian Wine Varieties Too
Here at Mountain Wines, we have searched far and wide to bring you the best examples of Italian wine varietals. Trust us to give you the best Italian wines – you don’t even need to learn how to pronounce the names!
As lovers of Nebbiolo and fine Alpine influenced wines, we support small-scale producers who continue to uphold traditional wine making practices. We get a kick out of bringing you rare grape varieties from hidden forest vineyards and single hectare family producers.
Our suppliers are Australia’s best, hands on importers who specialise in high quality wines of place. So join us for some amazing little-known Italian wines! Trust us, we know wine.