The 12 Most Important Wines of Italy

Italy is one of the most important wine regions in the entire world, and there are 20 different regions that produce Italian wine.

Italy and France are considered by many sommeliers to be the best wine-producing countries, and there is considerable history and tradition involved in Italian winemaking.

Italy is a country with a rich and deep wine culture, and today it is the number one producer of wine by volume in the entire world.

Each region has its own distinct history and wine style, and understanding 14 of the top wine regions in the country is a great way to get a firm grasp on the wines of Italy.

Exploring the Wines of Italy

Tuscany

red wine bottle wine glass

Tuscany is one of the most famous wine regions in the entire world, and the region is known for its Sangiovese grapes, as well as Super Tuscan blends of other noble grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The region accounts for about 17 percent of Italy’s wine production.

Chianti is the most famous wine produced in Tuscany and is made from the Sangiovese grape. Sangiovese is well known for its high acidity contempt, which makes it a great candidate for pairing with Italian dishes with an acidic tomato base.

Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri helped to develop the upscale image of the Super Tuscan blend with its bold flavors and long length of finish. Sassicaia makes for a fantastic steakhouse wine, as its bold flavors and strong tannins work to break up the fats in red meat.

Ruffino Chianti Riserva Ducale Tan is a widely distributed bottle of Chianti that is available all across the world at wine shops and supermarkets alike. The moderate price of under $20 per bottle allows wine enthusiasts with nearly any budget to enjoy a taste of Tuscany.

Veneto

vineyards road prosecco hills unesco

The Veneto region is located in northeast Italy and produces about 18 percent of all of the country’s wine. The Corvina grape is the jewel of this region, and it is used to produce a big and bold red wine called Amarone.

Amarone is a powerful wine in terms of both its taste and its effect, as it carries one of the higher alcohol contents of any Italian wine. Everything from the deep pigment to the flavor and buzz of Amarone feels strong and concentrated

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico is one of the most recognizable and widely distributed bottles of Amarone from the Veneto region. This is a great “introduction” to the world of Amarone, as it delivers plenty of pop at a moderate price of around $70

On the other end of the Amarone price spectrum, there is Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva DOCG. This is one of the most highly rated and most sought-after bottles of Amarone in Italy, and it carries a price tag of over $500 for nearly every vintage.

Piedmont

barolo wine region langhe piedmont

Piedmont is home to some of the most sought-after and expensive producers of the Nebbiolo grape, most of which are situated in the Barolo and Barbaresco regions.

The Dolcetto grape is another fantastic red wine grape from Piedmont, and its thick skin leads to bold tannins.

Bottles of Giacomo Conterno Monfortino often sell for over a thousand dollars per bottle, and the price tag is a reflection of its quality. Decades of winemaking experience and old-world vines make this one of the best Nebbiolos in the entire world.

Gaja Barbaresco DOCG is a widely available bottle of Nebbiolo that delivers the quintessential taste of Piedmont at a slightly more reasonable price.

Bottles of Gaja usually cost just north of $200 per bottle, and many wine enthusiasts believe this to be a steal.

Emilia-Romagna

beautiful levizzano village view old

The region of Emilia-Romagna is best known for a unique sparkling red wine called Lambrusco. For many years, Lambrusco carried a reputation as a cheap, sweet wine.

Today, there is a wide range of different Lambruscos produced in the region, some being bone dry.

Lini 910 ‘Labrusca’ Lambrusco Rosso Reggiano is a refreshing representation of Lambrusco that carries flavors of black fruit as well as floral notes. A bottle can usually be found for under $20, making it a great option for bringing to a party and sharing with others.

Paltrinieri ‘Radice’ Lambrusco di Sorbara is another Lambrusco that is a favorite among sommeliers and casual wine drinkers alike. The rich scents of cream and honey give way to a juicy burst that is full of citrus and brightness.

Abruzzo

beautiful hills around teramo

The most famous wine grape from the Abruzzo region is Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo, which is the second most popular red wine grape in all of Italy.

Wines from this region are well balanced and fairly low in tannin, making them great options for food pairing with a variety of dishes.

Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is one of the more popular high-end bottles of wine from the Abruzzo region, and a bottle can usually be found for under $100.

There are flavors of dark fruit like plum and berries on the nose, and the low tannins make it very easy to drink.

Cantina Zaccagnini il vino ‘dal tralcetto’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is an affordable bottle of Abruzzo wine that “over delivers” in terms of taste and drinkability.

This is one of the most well-balanced and tasty wines available at a price point of under $15.

Umbria

historic town of orvieto umbria

The Sagrantino grape is the most planted and widely consumed wine grape from the Region of Umbria, and the area also produces a considerable amount of white wine.

There are rare white grape blends that can only be found here, and there is great value to be had in Umbria.

Arnaldo-Caprai 25 Anniversario is an age-worthy Sagrantino wine from the Umbria region that showcases the unique taste and body provided by the regional grape. Many wine enthusiasts report tastes of baking spices and violets in this rich red wine.

Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala ‘Cervaro della Sala’ Umbria IGT is one of the best examples of Umbria’s trademark rare white blend. It is also one of the top-selling wines from Umbria, and a bottle usually costs just under $60.

Lombardy

panoramic aerial view

Lombardy is a landlocked region in northern Italy that produces a wide variety of different wine grapes. Approximately seven percent of all Italian wine is produced in Lombardy, and there is no one dominant grape varietal in the region.

Ca’ del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi has received a 97-point score by Wine Enthusiast, and it is a unique combination of the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc grapes.

This is one of the most awarded wines in the Lombardy region, and the acclaim is well deserved.

Ca dei Frati ‘I Frati’ Lugana is a very reasonably priced bottle of wine from Lombardy that is made from the Verdicchio grape. Verdicchio is rarely grown outside of Italy and produces a crisp white wine with strong floral notes and crisp acidity.

Trentino Alto Adige

vineyards view in santa maddalena

Is located in northern Italy near the German border, and there are many parts of the region that only speak German. Pinot Grigio is the dominant grape varietal here, and Chardonnay is also widely planted.

Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Alto Adige is a mass-produced white wine from the region that is available all over the world. This crisp Pinot Grigio is best paired with acidic food, and a bottle can usually be found for $20 or under.

Fratelli Lunelli Ferrari ‘Giulio Ferrari’ Riserva del Fondatore Metodo Classico Trentodoc is a sparkling wine made from the Chardonnay grape that has won many awards and is consistently given praise and high marks by wine enthusiasts and critics year after year.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

vineyards of the italian alps

The region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia is located in the northeast corner of Italy and shares borders with both Slovenia and Austria. The region is well known for its white wine production, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of all wine produced in Friuli.

Along with popular grapes like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, Friuli also produces a rare white blend of local white grape varietals. Local grapes like Friulano, Picolit, and Verduzzo all contribute to a unique white blend that is full of life and character.

Jermann ‘Vintage Tunina’ Venezia Giulia IGT is often the first bottle many enthusiasts and sommeliers think of when picturing wine from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.

This rare white blend was awarded a 95-point score by Wine Enthusiasts and is one of the region’s top sellers.

Vie di Romans Dessimis Pinot Grigio Friuli Isonzo is a famous single varietal wine that offers a taste of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region at a very reasonable price point.

A bottle usually costs somewhere around $30, and it delivers great depth and complexity considering the price point.

Puglia

traditional white trulli houses surrounded

For those new to the world of wine, the region of Puglia is often referred to as the “gateway” region to Italian wine.

Puglia is known to have some of the most affordable bottles of wine in Italy, and the sweeter style of wines produced in the region are approachable for all.

Many new wine enthusiasts find Zinfandel to be an approachable new world grape, and Primitivo is the Italian version. Cantine San Marzano 60 Sessantanni Old Vines Primitivo di Manduria is a round and fruity Primito that is sure to please all palates.

Marche

nice view in italy marche

Verdicchio from the Marche region offers great value on a uniquely fresh and bright white wine, with many bottles costing under $30. There are also high-quality red wines produced here like Montepulciano and Sangiovese blends.

Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore is a great way to try the Verdicchio grape from this region without breaking the bank, as it is award-winning and costs around $20 a bottle.

Lazio

italian vineyard in lazio

The infrastructure of the famous city of Rome leaves little room for vineyards in the Lazio region, but winemakers still manage to produce quality wine like Famiglia Cotarella Falesco ‘Montiano’ Lazio IGT, a fantastic Merlot.

Wines of Italy – Conclusion

With so many fantastic wine regions in the country of Italy, the number of choices can be overwhelming for new wine enthusiasts.

Understanding a bit about each of the country’s top regions is a great way to get started on any wine journey!

Further Reading