Beautiful scenery, historical sites, and world-class wines make Italy famous. Due to its lengthy winemaking heritage, Italy is one of the world's top wine producers. Due to the different geography and skilled winemakers, there are wines for every taste. This article explores the Italian science of wine and the top 13 Italian wines that symbolize Italy's winemaking traditions. These wines, from the classic Chianti Classico to the rich Barolo, feature heritage, innovation, and a strong connection to the land. Join us as we explore Italy's lots of grapes, discovering unusual and delicious wines for wine lovers.
Barolo is at the top of Italian wine categories, with the Classification of Origin Controlled and Garanita approval. This categorization implies a particular way of making something, and it also guarantees a particular quality. Barolo may only be classified as a Controlled Origin Guarantee if it is 100% Nebbiolo.
It is necessary to age Barolo wine for at least 38 months. There should be a minimum of 18 months of pine bottle aging time for the wine. Barolo grapes that bear the "Riserva" have been aged for at least five years.
Barolo wines typically have a minimum alcohol concentration of 13% and are thus compared to Burgundy Pinot Noirs. Scents of dried herbs, roses, and tar filled the air as this acidic wine pulsated.
The Tuscan areas of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato, and Siena are all responsible for producing the Chianti Classico wine. Even though it is occasionally made under the Superiore label, Chianti Classico is a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. It is famous for its packaging in a fiasco or straw basket. For the wine to have this title, it has to be made according to tighter regulations.
A variety of grapes come together to make Chianti Classico. The Sangiovese grapes used to make Chianti Classico typically range from seventy-five to one hundred percent. The Canaiolo grape accounts for no more than 10% of the final product, while the remaining 20% comes from other permitted varieties. The grapes used to make this wine can be Cabernet, Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah.
Prosecco, an inexpensive sparkling wine that has become a popular substitute for Champagne, is perhaps the most well-known Italian wine. Originating in the northern Italian regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, Prosecco comes in DOC (excellent) and DOCG (best) varieties, as do other wines. Taking a wine-tasting tour is a breeze if you're visiting Venice—it's only an hour away. The "Charmat method," also known as the tank method, is used to make Prosecco.
The second fermentation takes place in tanks, and the grape variety Glera must account for 85% of the total. You can sip a glass of Prosecco on its own or combine it with other sparkling wines to make a Bellini or Aperol Spritz, two of Italy's most famous drinks because of their mild fruitiness and floral undertones. Drinks before dinner are wonderful, but with the correct pairings of food and Prosecco, they can truly complement each course of a meal. This guide to pairing prosecco with food shows you everything you need to know. This sparkling wine is explained in more detail in our piece called Prosecco.
Gavi, or Cortese di Gavi, is the most well-known and respected white DOCG wine hailing from the northern Italian Piedmont area. The native white grape variety, Cortese, is used to make it.
Because of the area's mineral-rich soils, Gavi produces a bone-dry white wine that is both refreshing and crisp. You can just slightly taste almonds and straw in it, but mostly it tastes like green apples, lime, honeydew, and herbs.
The province of Alessandria is home to numerous grapes that make Gavi DOCG wines. Using the name "Gavi di Gavi" on a bottle of wine indicates that it was made in the Gavi region. It may or may not be a measure of its quality.
Soave, a DOC wine produced from Garganega grapes cultivated in hillside vineyards surrounding the picturesque city of Verona, is another highly favored variety of white wine in Italy.
The white wine soave has hints of fruit and flowers and is dry and refreshing. Melon, white peach, orange zest, jasmine, and a hint of almond and dry herbs are some of the typical flavors. For example, seafood, pig, poultry, cured meats, risottos, veggies, and spicy Asian cuisines all go well with Soave due to its high natural acidity.
There has been tremendous expansion in the Soave DOC wine-growing region throughout the years. As a result, the Soave Superiore DOCG was established to identify and promote the region's finest white wines. Also found here are wines with the Soave Classico designation, which are those made from the ancient hillside vineyards. Finally, the area is known for its sweet wine, Recioto di Soave DOCG.
Emilia-Romagna is situated south of the Veneto and north of Tuscany; it is the birthplace of the Lambrusco grape. In general, the wine made in the Emilia-Romagna region garnered little attention. Instead, its most famous products are balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, and parmesan-Reggiano cheese. This crimson sparkling wine is made from Lambrusco grapes.
Lambrusco grapes are easily recognizable by their vibrant purple-red color. This red wine undergoes traditional fermentation in bottles after harvesting and winemaking. A lot of care and attention is needed for this process. Fermentation continues in a big steel tank, or Charmat, during the second cycle.
Lambrusco wine went from a niche product to a mass-produced staple in the 1980s. In most cases, the wine has a pale pinkish-red tint with a subtle floral aroma. Nevertheless, Lambrusco wine possesses robust scents of watermelons, violets, orange flowers, mandarin oranges, and cherries.
The delicacy, complexity, and exceptional aging potential of Brunello di Montalcino have earned it a place among the most renowned Italian wines.
The renown of Brunello di Montalcino is due to a pharmacist named Clemente Santi's insight. The new Sangiovese Grosso vines, which are now known as Brunello in the area, were planted by Santi on the Il Greppo estate in Montalcino.
Within the borders of the Montalcino municipality in the Siena province, only Sangiovese grapes may be used to make Brunello di Montalcino wine. Roughly 2,000 acres of vineyard land are devoted to making Brunello di Montalcino.
Aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels (of any size), Brunello di Montalcino must be sold on January 1st of the fifth year after harvest, according to the disciplinary rules.
Is the history of the "Super Tuscan" label a mystery to you? Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, the protagonist of the story, aspired to make a wine as great as the best Bordeaux had to offer. In spite of the fact that Italian wine experts were not fond of his first effort, the brand's 1968 commercial vintage was a smashing success.
This legendary wine has a powerful flavor profile with notes of dark, ripe fruit, cigar box spice, and a unique woodsmoke character from the barrels. It is a mix of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sassicaia is an elegant wine that complements many different foods and can be kept for up to 30 years. 'Super Tuscan' is an apt description of this wine because of its extraordinary flavor.
Nebbiolo, the third most well-known wine from the Piedmont area, hails from the northern Italian highlands. This red wine shares the Nebbiolo grape variety with Barbaresco and Barolo. The Italian word "Debbie," meaning fog, is an etymological ancestor of the word "Nebbiolo."
A powdery-white substance that develops on the grape's surface during harvest is most likely what is causing the similarity. Most wines from Piedmont have a Denominazione per Origine Controllata e Garanita, and Nebbiolo is no exception.
This Nebbiolo grape is light. The aroma is also delicate. Still, the aroma of red fruits and roses is very noticeable. Some people claim that after drinking wine, a taste lingers on their gums, teeth, and tongue. This kind of wine has a complex scent and flavor profile that includes hints of black, ginger, the beverage, and earth.
A lot of people say that roasted lamb accumulated with herb coating, consumed duck with natural mushrooms, and white truffle with spinach and pasta are good pairings for Nebbiolo wine.
A white wine from Italy, Pinot Grigio is among the world's most beloved beverages. Although it is grown and produced throughout Italy, the northeastern regions of Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Veneto are where it is most commonly found.
The delicious scents of grapefruit, lime, melon, apple, and pear permeate Pinot Grigio, a delicate white wine with a light body and a crisp, refreshing character. Light pasta dishes, salads, shrimp, and vegetables go well with this dry white wine from Italy.
There are too many Italian Pinot Grigio denominations to include them all here. Still, if you're looking for a good one, we suggest Alto Adige DOC, Venezia DOC, or Collio DOC.
The Veneto area in northeastern Italy is home to some of the world's most esteemed red wines, including Amarone della Valpolicella. The support system method must first be used to dry the passito fruit, which is what is used to make it. The grapes get a little dry during this process.
The concentrate is fermented slowly after a light pressing in the following step. For at least two years following fermentation, the finished product is allowed to age. Amarone di Valpolicella can be aged for nine or ten years, which is quite rare. Traditional aging vessels, often made of oak wood, include drums. The wood is native to Slovenia or France. Barrels can be crafted from a variety of woods, including a plant called nut and plum.
Tuscany is home to two of our favorite red wines, including Chianti, the most well-known red wine in Italy. Even though it's a clone of the Tuscan classic, Sangiovese, the grape variety used to make this Vino Nobile has a completely different personality. Its structure is massive, and it has layers of tannins and waves upon waves of flavors bringing back wild fruits. Even though it's pricey, it can hold its own against any Barolo in this price range.
Cannonau di Sardegna is from the Italian island of Sardinia, which is located off the coast of the Italian mainland. The grapes that give this wine its name are used to make it. The local Italian term for Grenache is the Cannonau grape.
The United States, France, Spain, and Australia are among the places where you can find Grenache grapes. Because of its late ripening period and preference for warm, dry climates, the Spanish climate is ideal for grape cultivation. Red and rose Cannonau di Sardegna wines are sugary because Cannonau grapes are so heavy in sugar.
Along with Borolo, Cannonau di Sardegna is designated as a Riserva wine. Two years of aging are required before it may be marketed. Although Cannonau di Sardegna is most often aged in chestnut barrels, it can also be aged in oak. The typical association with Cannonau di Sardegna is a lackluster flavor profile. Longevity is more commonly associated with this wine. This wine is great for your heart because it's full of antioxidants like anthocyanins and polyphenols.
Residents of Sardinia who regularly drank Cannonau di Sardegna had a longer life expectancy than the general population. Locals typically lived into their nineties. Some residents have lived over the century; however, this is quite unusual. In terms of flavor, most people say that Cannonau di Sardegna has a little white spice, ripe berries, plums, and cranberries.
Finally, understanding Italian wines exposes a complex web of history, culture, and creativity that has captivated palates for decades. This world-famous wine-producing nation's broad and diverse wine selection extends much beyond what is featured in this top-ten list of Italian wines.
Each wine from Italy's rich winemaking heritage has a unique story to tell, from the strong reds of Barolo to the crisp elegance of Pinot Grigio. The careful consideration of the land, grape varieties, and cellaring techniques by Italian winemakers shows their unwavering dedication to producing wines of unsurpassed quality in every bottle.