Discover Italian Wine Regions
When it comes to notable Italian wines, there is no shortage of luxury and flavor. We all admit to
With so much diversity and tasting potential among Italy’s wine regions, taking in all the exciting information can be overwhelming.
There are a lot of wines and labels to get through, so we’ve done our best to break down everything into digestible sections without skimping on the key facts.
Get a taste of Italy’s famous viticulture scene below!
The Wine Regions of Italy
Did you know Italy is home to twenty wine regions? Bustling with culture and great food, Italy is famous for its winemaking secrets, some as old as the country itself. Since it’s impossible to experience all it has to offer in a short amount of time, we hope this guide serves you well as we highlight Italy’s breathtaking landscapes and wine varietals for you to discover.
With so many regions to explore, we’ve broken them into three sections, including Northern regions, Southern Regions, and famous Islands off the coast of Italy.
Let’s get started!
Northern Italy Wine Regions
Nestled against the Alps, Northern Italy is heavily influenced by French, Swiss, and Austrian cuisines and culture.
Let’s see what makes the diverse regions in the north so unique.
On the border of France and Switzerland, Italy’s northernmost region, Aosta, is also the smallest. With an elevation of 4,200 feet above sea level, the mountainous landscapes here are incredibly diverse, which makes quality viticulture challenging. The rocky terroir at the peaks inhibits the vineyard’s survival. Meanwhile, the mineral-rich soil of the valley floor is much too fertile, so most of the vines are grown on the slopes.
The climate in this region is unusual for its location. Since Aosta Valley is shielded by the Alps, it is treated with warm, dry summers and cool nights.
Aosta Valley is most famous for its fruit-forward red wine selection rich in tannins and acidity, particularly Nebbiolo (known locally as Picotendro), Pinot Noir, Petite Arvine, Petite Rouge, and Fumin. As far as white wine goes, Chardonnay is the most notable grape variety.
Along with Veneto and Tuscany, Piedmont is one of the main regions producing the most wines that are exported to the United States. Much like Aosta Valley, this chilly region faces the Alps. It also lies along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, which provides the summer weather ideal for healthy viticulture.
The wines produced here include the black grape Nebbiolo, which boasts aggressive tannins and breezy floral aromas. Several of Piedmont’s other varietals also fall under the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), which are the most superior government-issued wine classifications.
Varietals under the highest classification, DOCG, include Barolo, nicknamed the “King of Wine,” and Barbaresco. Barolo is bursting with red floral and fruity notes like rose petal, raspberry, and cherry, complemented by black pepper and cinnamon spices. This red wine’s leather and chocolate notes become more prominent when aged. Barbaresco is much less tannic because its thinner skin emits a smoother, fruity taste.
Dolcetto and Brachetto also boast both DOCG and DOC classifications, with striking red and black fruit notes among their varietals. If you’re looking for white wine in this region, look to crisp Moscato Bianco, Chardonnay, Cortese, and the sweet dessert wine Moscato d’Asti.
East of the Aosta Valley lies the Lombardy region, famous for its sparkling wines. It is one of the largest regions in Northern Italy and consists of a cool, elevated climate surrounded by lakes. With cool temperatures complemented by sunny days and breezy nights, the breathtaking scenery makes this region a popular tourist destination.
The best wine in Lombardy is the Franciacorta DOCG, a sparkling red wine with black cherry and forest berry notes and almond aromas. Red Valtellina is also a light, high-quality wine to try with its bright cherry notes and flavors.
If you love white wine, Liguria is the wine region for you. Its rugged coastline is picturesque, with colorful stone buildings and a sparkling blue cove. The steep elevation here protects its grapes from the biting winds of the Alps. Full-bodied, dry white wines in Liguria are produced from Vermentino and Pigato. Deliciously bright red wines like Rossesse and Dolcetto are full of rich, fruity flavors. Dolcetto, specifically, is a bit darker with a distinct licorice and almond taste.
Take a dip in the sapphire waters of Liguria’s breezy coves, then break for dinner and warm up with a decadent wine and hot Italian meal as you watch the sunset.
Trentino Alto Adige
With its gorgeous, hilly landscapes decorated with medieval castles, the Trentino Alto Adige region will make you feel like you’re in The Sound of Music. The Northeast location lends to a strong Austro-Hungarian and German influence, with sweet, perfumey dessert wines like Gewürztraminer. Sparkling wines and white wines are also prevalent here, with crisp, sparkling blends of Chardonnay from the traditional Trento DOC that rival Champagne in quality.
For red wine, try Pinot Nero, a light-bodied red wine with fruit and spice notes similar to Pinot Noir. If you’d like to stick with white wine when visiting, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are excellent choices.
Friuli Venezia Giulia
With an obsession for Pinot Grigio, this wine region focuses on more than 75% white wine production. Here you will find a mountainous climate with rolling green hills and lush vineyards. With southern flatlands near the Adriatic Sea, the sunny hills and coastal breezy provide the perfect weather for thriving viticulture. Friulu Venezia is further Northeast and is heavily influenced by Slovic culture as well as contains Meditteranean and Alpine influences. Sample unique white wines like the acidic and citrusy Ribolla Gialla or peachy Friulano that smells like wild meadow flowers.
Other white wines include Verduzzo, with notes as sweet as honey; Sauvignon Blanc, with a slightly meaty taste; and Chardonnay. For red wine, try the smooth, dry Merlot and Cabernet Franc, both bursting with black and red fruit and berries.
Take in the diverse climates and locations of the lovely Veneto region. Famous for its Gothic architecture, open countryside, and the city of Venice, this region grows some of the most indigenous Italian grapes. If you visit Veneto, you must try its most prolific red wine, the Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, made from traditional Molinara, Corvilla, and Rondinella grapes grown between Lake Garda and Verona.
Esteemed Prosecco and Pinot Grigio are also sought after here, along with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. You will also find the zesty white wine, Soave, which is rich, full-bodied, and ripe with citrus, much like cold climate Chardonnay. With so many of the country’s DOC and DOCG grape varietals grown here, there is nothing short of quality and variety.
Emilia Romagna is the beating heart of Italy’s food and agriculture production. You can pair the smoky, fruit-forward dry red wine Sangiovese with fresh prosciutto and cheeses when on a wine-tasting tour here. Trebbiano is a notable white wine in this region, with dry textures and bright citrus and stone fruit flavors. You might taste a slight sea salt and basil finish with this refreshing varietal. This wine is also commonly used in Italy’s balsamic vinegar production.
If you’re craving a light aperitif, Emilia Romagna is perhaps most famous for its Lambrusco. The sparkling red wine is light in alcohol with notes of violets and fresh berries. Bask in the sunshine and breeze of Italy’s east coast with a juicy, refreshing Lambrusco in hand.
Once ruled by the Romans, the Marche region (pronounced Mar-kay) is further down the east coast, just below Emilia Romagna. Marche boasts diverse terrains and microclimates, with the terroir (or soil) ranging from limestone to mineral clay to sand. This is ideal for growing the region’s most common grape, Verdicchio, which is an aromatic white wine boasting fresh and herbaceous apricot, pear, and toasted almond notes.
The most famous red wines here include Montepulciano, a juicy, medium-bodied acidic wine with potent tannins and flavors of boysenberry and plum. This wine’s taste is often compared to the popular Cabernet Sauvignon. This varietal is often compared to Syrah and is made using Sangiovese grapes. Speaking of Sangiovese, this wine is also known for standing on its own here.
One of the most famous Italian wine regions is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. The vineyards here stretch for miles, and it’s no wonder why this beautiful region, full of traditional winemaking history, is an endlessly popular travel destination.
The most famous white wine in Tuscany is Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, which is dry and tangy with a distinctly bitter aftertaste.
When you visit Tuscany, be sure to pair one of these notable wines with classic Italian pasta dishes like spaghetti or fresh seafood.
Along the northeastern borders of Lazio, surrounded by Tuscany, is the Italian coast’s central wine region of Umbria. The landscape here is hilly with a true Mediterranean climate. Cold, wet winters and dry summers foster full-bodied, smoothly tannic red wines like Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The snowy peaks of the Apennines also provide the chilly climates that produce the famed white wine of this region, Grechetto. This wine is crisp, tart, and minerally with a distinct green almond note. The taste is considered comparable to the delicate Pinot Grigio. Both red and white wines are worth tasting here.
Southern Italy Wine Regions
Picturesque with rolling hills, the summery breeze of the Mediterranean coastline, ancient ruins, and decadent traditional cuisines, the wine regions in Southern Italy are rich in beauty and culture.
Keep reading for a taste of Southern Italy’s magnificent red wines and dishes like savory pizza.
Home to its capital city, Rome, this region is most known for its white wine production. Rich volcanic soils high in potassium, complemented by ocean breezes, help cultivate easy-drinking sippers. But the way of life here is by no means “lazy,” as Lazio is known for producing some of the highest quality Trebbiano, Malvasia di Candia, and Malvasia Puntinata. The latter two are known for their soft citrus notes and pleasant mineral aftertaste. For a great red wine in this region, Sangiovese is ripe for the picking.
Abruzzo is often overlooked as a region since it produces a small variety of wines. However, this mighty little region produces high-quality red, white, and Rosé varieties like the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC, and the Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC.
Along its diverse coastline, you will find nature reserves, incredible mountain views, and the sparkling blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. Depending on where you are, you can overlook lush green hills and feel the sand between your toes in the Mediterranean breeze in a single day.
Abruzzo is a perfect destination in you love skiing in winter. After an exciting day on the slopes, you can curl up by the fireplace with a traditional Italian dish and a glass of Montepulciano.
If you’re interested in Italian wine culture, you’ve likely heard of Naples, the largest city in the Campania region. It is here where the Greeks first introduced the Aglianico grape, which is at the core of the region’s most respected wines; Aglianico del Taburno and Taurasi. These wines take about ten years to age before they become drinkable, but we promise they’re worth the wait. The ocean breezes, and volcanic soil produce some of the fruitiest red wines you have ever tasted.
Most known for its authentic pizza, pair a glass of wine with any Italian comfort dish of your choice in Campania.
Just a little way south of Abruzzo is the secluded Molise region, home to mountainous terrain, breezy beaches, and historical architecture that transport you to a different time. It was designated as a DOC in 1998 and has calcareous soils that ensure the vines have proper mineral and water retention. There is no shortage of sunshine and coastal breeze here, allowing viticulture to flourish.
Molise is famous for the white wine Trebbiano and the red wine Montepulciano, both produced in the Biferno DOC. Other notable wines include Agalianico, a savory red that boasts white pepper, dried fruit, and leather flavors, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese. You will also find Tintila, an almost purple wine that is both grassy and fruity with notes of artichoke, plum, and elegant tannins. Don’t miss this exotic varietal when you visit!
Visiting this wine region feels like being in a small, ancient kingdom. With gorgeous historical architecture and high mountains leaving Basilicata secluded, even the Apennines block the cool currents of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Because it is so small, this region produces very few DOC wines. However, it is incredibly famous for its mineral-rich volcanic soils, which produce the robust black grape Aglianico.
Basilicata is also known for producing other rich, plummy red wines like Greco Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon. Escape to this relaxing region for a mixture of Italian wine culture and the Greek coasts.
Along the Mediterranean coastline are sandy soils, hot climates, and ocean breezes perfect for producing full-bodied red wines with bold tannins and potent fruity notes. Famous varietals in this region include Sangiovese, Primitivo (Zinfandel), Trebbiano, and Negroamaro, a robust dry wine with blackberry and prune notes along with a hint of herb.
In 2011, Puglia received its first DOCG appellation, Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale. Producing the sweet red wines in this appellation require certain vintages and climate conditions, making these varietals more of a rarity.
When traveling here, be sure to sip the diverse selection of famous red grape varietals. If you’re curious about sampling a white from this region, Chardonnay is the most notable here.
Making our way to the tip of the “boot” that is Italy’s southern peninsula, we find the Calabria region tucked between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Ionian Sea. This region focuses on red blends, particularly the Cirò DOC. Under this classification, Calabria’s most famous wine, Gaglioppo, is produced, which is characterized by its heavy tannins and rich fruit and tobacco flavors.
The climate here is mostly mild and Meditteranean year round with little rainfall. Grab your swimsuit and a glass of red wine as you sit back on one of the pleasantly warm beaches.
Italy’s Island Regions
Have you always dreamed of getting away to a remote island surrounded by crystal blue waters? With a breezy Mediterranean climate, cozy seaside villages, breathtaking architecture, and no shortage of activities or cuisines, Sicily and Sardinia are an explorer’s paradise!
Let’s learn more about their wines.
Across the Messina Straight is the Sicilia DOC, famous for producing the fortified apricot and spice wine, Marsala, a key ingredient in chicken Marsala. This region has been the heart of Meditteranean viticulture for almost 3000 years, producing various wines worthy of nobility.
Nero d’Avola, often blended with Frappato for Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, is a dark, rich, and fruity red wine due to the hot climate in which its grapes are grown. For white wine, Grillo is the most prolific, characterized by light, peachy flavors.
Take your pick of the gorgeous mountains or sandy beaches, along with select white wines, red wines, and everything in between!
Only slightly smaller than the island of Sicily, the beautiful hills and beaches of Sardinia are less than 200 miles from Italy’s west coast. If you’re already in Italy, this means you’re just a boat ride away from quaint seaside towns, decadent cheeses like Pecorino, and exquisite wines. Not far from mainland wine regions like Tuscany, Sardinia grows both French and Spanish grape varietals, most notably Grenache.
The diverse terrains include hills, plains, and sandy soils. The land is fertile for viticulture with limestone, bedrock, granite, and dense mineral-packed clay. Pair a dry, fruit-forward Grenache with decadent, hard cheeses like Pecorino, or grab a sweet version of this varietal to pair with indulgent Italian desserts.
There’s Still More to Discover!
We’ve explored all the major wine regions of Italy, but if you look closer, there is still more to discover. As each region contains micro-regions and smaller DOC/DOCG appellations, there is seemingly no end to the wine tour!
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