The best Italian wines, national heritage to be discovered!
Italy is a country with a great food and wine culture: some of the best Italian wines are produced in different regions of Italy and they have become wordwide famous. The reason for the success of Italian wine is mainly due to the presence of many wineries scattered from north to south. The first signs of wine export come with the Romans. In fact, they exported their grape vine plants and winemaking techniques to the conquered territories.
Viticulture remained always very active even during the Middle Ages, thanks to the monks who had been working in the monasteries to produce mass wine, making quantity prevail over quality for several centuries, until in some regions the winemaking techniques began to change in order to improve the quality of wine and to create what are now the best Italian wines. The search for very high quality standards continues today to make sure that the best Italian wines represent a distinctive element of the entire Peninsula.
The best Italian red wines
The characteristics of a wine depend on the grape variety, but also on many other factors such as the climate, the soil composition and the winemaking techniques.
Red wines have more or less intense ruby/garnet colours and they are generally characterised by long ageing in wooden barrels. This makes the wines full-bodied and persistent on the palate, with intense and spicy aromas depending on the ageing time.
The best Italian red wines are paired with red meat, game meat, aged cheeses, as well as being excellent meditation wines.
1. Amarone della Valpolicella
Amarone della Valpolicella is an Italian wine produced from the Corvina and Corvinone grape varieties. It is grown in the Veronese area of Valpolicella wine region. It has got an intense garnet red colour, while on the palate it is velvety and persistent.
Nebbiolo is a Piedmontese grape variety used to produce Barolo, one of the best Italian wines. Barolo requires an ageing of at least 38 months, 18 of which in wooden barrels: this long wine ageing process characterises the strong personality of Barolo so that, in this wine, “hard” and “soft” elements are perfectly balanced. It is also used for “Brasato al Barolo”, a traditional Piedmontese recipe.
3. Chianti Classico
Chianti Classico is one of the best Italian red wines and it is famous all over the world. It is produced in Tuscany with Sangiovese grapes or in blends (with 80% minimum Sangiovese) with other red grape vines. In order to taste what is considered by many to be the best Italian wine, it is necessary to let it settle for a few hours and then to pour it into a tulip glass that enhances the bouquet of aromas. Chianti Classico is paired very well with ethnic foods, which is why it is one of the best Italian red wines to be appreciated in different areas of the world.
4. Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello di Montalcino is another Tuscan wine with Sangiovese, produced near the town of Montalcino from which it takes its name. Among the best Italian red wines, the particularity of Brunello di Montalcino is certainly its ability to age for a long time, improving more and more, becoming more and more valuable over the years.
5. Primitivo di Manduria
Among the best Italian red wines we cannot fail to mention Primitivo di Manduria, an Apulian wine produced mainly in the province of Taranto. It has got an intense red colour that tends to purple. Its wine aroma and flavour are fruity and pleasant and they become more full-bodied and velvety with ageing. The origin of this grape variety is uncertain but there seems to be a strong similarity with the DNA of Zinfadel, a grape variety widely cultivated in Australia and California.
6. Cannonau di Sardegna
The best Sardinian red wines, such as Cannonau, are characterised by a great full-bodied taste and a strong persistence on the palate. These are some of the best Italian wines produced with black grape varieties and they are grown all over the island. Depending on the grape variety and the ageing time, Cannonau can have different characteristics.
7. Nero d’Avola
Nero d’Avola is the most popular grape variety in Sicily and it is used to obtain one of the best Italian red wines, a wine with a ruby red colour and fruity aroma. On the palate it is full-bodied and soft. Nerello Mascalese, on the other hand, is produced with grapevines grown near Mount Etna and its colour is ruby/garnet with a good body on the palate. It is considered one of the best Italian wines and it is paired well with roast, red meat, game meat and aged cheeses.
8. Aglianico del Vulture
Aglianico del Vulture is mainly produced in the area around Potenza in Southern Italy. This red wine is mentioned among the best Italian red wines, so much so that it earned the nickname “Barolo of the South”, as it has got many similarities with the Piedmontese wine. The intense red colour takes on orange reflections with ageing, which also increases in intensity, pleasantness and persistence.
The best Italian white wines
To taste a white wine, we start first from the visual evaluation, examining its colour and clarity. The visual examination allows you to have some information on white wine such as age, grape variety and winemaking techniques.
During this step, you can also obtain some information on viscosity and alcoholic strength, by rotating the glass to form some “bows” with the wine. Depending on the speed they will drop, it will be possible to understand how alcoholic the wine is. The slower they go down, the more we will be tasting a full-bodied and structured white wine.
The olfactory examination allows you to understand the persistence of wine, while the gustatory examination assesses intensity, acidity and persistence. After the first tasting, in which you perceive the “freshness”, you move on to a second one, leaving the wine on the palate for about ten seconds to evaluate flavour and persistence. Italian white wines should be served at around 10° C and they are paired with appetisers and fish dishes.
1. Trentino wines
Trentino Alto Adige is one of the Italian regions with the greatest production of white wines. In fact, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Müller Thurgau and Sauvignon are grown in this region. The winemaking tradition of the region is important to make both varietal wine and wine blends, which are in fact considered as some of the best Italian wines.
Vermentino from Liguria is a dry white wine that comes from the Vermentino grapevine, present in many areas of the region. The origin of this grape variety is probably Spanish and it came to Italy via France. Even today, the standards for the production of what is considered by many to be one of the best Italian wines are very high and its characteristics change according to the territory where the grapevine, which prefers sunny and breezy coasts, originates.
Verdicchio is a native grape variety from the Marche region. It is used alone to obtain fresh white wines, but also for structured Italian wines. It is also particularly appreciated for sparkling wines and raisin wines. The name of this grape variety (“greenish”) derives from the colour of the grape itself, which is rich in green shades.
4. Greco di Tufo & Lacryma Christi
Greco di Tufo is another wine included in the best Italian wines with DOCG denomination and it is produced in Campania. It is one of the few Italian white wines that lends itself well to long ageing and it is both still and sparkling. It pairs well with seafood dishes, while in the classic method sparkling version it is paired with fish appetisers or fresh cheeses.
Lacryma Christi is a white wine from Campania with a dry and slightly acidic taste, with a rather high alcohol content (12% minimum). It is produced with grapevines grown in the Vesuvian area. Among the best Italian wines, it is the most suitable to pair with sea crudités, crustaceans and fresh cheeses.
5. Sicily’s White Grapes & the Best Italian Wines
The Grillo grape variety is grown in western Sicily and it is used to produce fortified white wines such as Marsala. It is also used as a varietal wine for sapid and fragrant wines, with a great longevity potential. Depending on the production areas, white wines produced from Grillo grapes have very different characteristics.
Zibibbo is a wine obtained from the native Zibibbo grape variety of Arab origin. It is grown mainly in Sicily on Pantelleria island and in the area around Trapani. It is paired with raw fish and white meat fish. This wine is sweet and has got a very characteristic aroma. It is also produced in different versions such as passito, moscato or spumante and it is excellent with Sicilian pastries.
Catarratto is a white grape variety grown in Sicily, more precisely in Trapani. A very acidic white wine is produced from its grapes. It has got a great aromatic freshness and it is paired with seafood and traditional Sicilian dishes.
6. Wines from White Muscat grapes
Moscato Bianco is an aromatic grape variety spread throughout Italy. In Piedmont, it is undoubtedly the most common white grape variety, but it is also grown in Tuscany, Sardinia, Sicily and Puglia. It is a versatile grape variety and it is used for some of the best Italian wines, in particular for sweet and sparkling wines such as the Asti DOCG sparkling wine or sweet raisin wines.
The best rosé and sparkling wines
Rosé wines are produced with black grapes but working on reduced maceration times and with specific winemaking techniques.
These are some of the best Italian wines and they are very versatile because they are a middle ground between the lightness of white wines and the structure of red wines, making them the perfect companions with different dishes and making them much appreciated even outside Italy.
Fresh rosé wines are very similar to structured white wines and this category includes many of the best Italian wines produced in Northern Italy such as Bardolino Chiaretta, Garda DOC Classico or Oltrepò Pavese. Medium-bodied rosés, on the other hand, are similar to red wines and they are some of the most famous wines of central-southern Italy such as Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Cirò DOC or Terre di Cosenza.
The so-called “bubbles” are among the best Italian wines and they are worldwide famous. The main characteristic that unites sparkling wines, prosecco and other wines of this type is the presence of retained carbon dioxide. Prosecco is a grape variety which today is called “glera”, grown mainly in Veneto. The bubble appears less fine-grained with a movement that tends rapidly upwards, with floral and fruity aromas.
Franciacorta, on the other hand, owes its name to the production area, which is located in Lombardy. The name also identifies the production method used for these famous Italian wines. It is a wine with a subtle and persistent bubbles that rises rather slowly upwards.
Spumante, on the other hand, is a wine without denomination which is obtained by various methods. The best sparkling wines are the natural ones, in which carbon dioxide is formed by itself through the winemaking process, unlike the aerated sparkling wines to which it is added artificially.
Wine tourism, a new and original travel experience
Given the presence of many famous wineries throughout Italy, wine tourism has seen an exponential growth in recent years, with an increasing appreciation by Italian and foreign visitors.
It is an original tourism, which allows you to enyoy a wine experience at its best, with the opportunity to attend the winemaking process of the best Italian wines, to know about the cultivation methods of the vineyards that can be visited and to enjoy all these experiences together with winemakers, who will guide tourists to discover the birth of the so-called “Nectar of Bacchus”.
It is also a type of outdoor tourism, which is perfect for all seasons, including those of the wine harvest:
- Wine Harvest in Tuscany
- Grape harvest in Umbria with lunch in a relais
- Come and grape harvest with us near Rome
- Grape harvest festival in Sicily
Wine tourism is organised by the wineries and there are many places throughout Italy where you can join a memorable wine experience. Traditional Italian wines are often paired with local dishes in order to offer the visitor a tasty and relaxing experience, which is very different from the chaotic and inflated mass tourism.
Discover the best Italian wines by booking a wine trip directly with the producer!