Known for the finest wines in the world, Italy has more than 1.5 million acres of vineyards and more than 250 varietals. Italy has a rich wine heritage which goes back 2,000 years. The best wine regions in Italy are divided into 20 areas that cover the breadth and width of the entire Mediterranean peninsula.
These vineyards produce exceptional quality wine and if you are a wine lover, follow your nose through vitality and make time to stop for a glass of classic wine. There are several wine tours in Italy.
For an ideal fusion of culture, food, and wine, there is nothing like Italy.
Wine tours in Italy have gained immense popularity.
Besides the canals of Venice and the Roman architecture, the one thing that remains constant is wine.
Italian wine cities are steeped with a rich history which is still alive in a unique style.
Table of Contents
- History of Wine in Italy
- Map of Italian Wine Regions
- List of Top Wine Regions in Italy
- 1. Calabria
- 2. Abruzzo
- 3. Tuscany
- 4. Emilia-Romagna
- 5. Lazio
- 6. Lombardy
- 7. Puglia
- 8. Molise
- 9. Sicily
- 10. Marche
- 11. Valle d’Aosta
- 12. Basilicata
- 13. Campania
- 14. Linguria
- 15. Friuli-Venezia Giulia
- 16. Piedmont
- 17. Sardinia
- 18. Trentino-Alto Adige
- 19. Umbria
- 20. Veneto
- Different Wine Styles Produced in Italy
- Classifications in Various Italian Wine Regions
- DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata – DOCG
- IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)
- DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)
History of Wine in Italy
Italy has a climate suitable for viticulture and wine history dates back to more than 4,000 years. One of the most diverse winemaking countries in the world, Italy is also known as Oenotria, meaning the land of wine.
Grapes are easily cultivated here and this makes wine production easy and convenient.
The Greeks began wine cultivation and were followed by Romans who took an interest in the skills.
With a rise in Catholicism and the increasing importance of wine, Italy continues to refine winemaking techniques and has cemented a strong reputation across the world for making excellent quality wines.
Take a look at the Italian wine map and you will realize how prominent wine is in the food and culture of Italy. One cannot think of Italy without thinking about its wine.
By the nineteenth century, Italy had gained global recognition for inexpensive table wines and in the 1960s, laws were passed to control wine quality.
This is when the modern era of wine production started. Today, wines are more popular and varied than ever.
You will find a wide range of Italian wine varying from white (most famously Pinot Grigio), sparkling wines, and red wines made in different styles for consumers around the world.
Map of Italian Wine Regions
Before we hope into the exact specifics of each wine region in Italy, let’s take a look at a visual snapshot of the wine regions via our map.
This wine map of Italy will help you discern the differences of each location as well as get a feel of where each wine region is located in Italy.
Italian Wine Regions Map
List of Top Wine Regions in Italy
Located between Tyrrhenian seas in Southern Italy and Ionian, Calabria has seen various viticultural influences over the past centuries. It is one of the best wine regions in Italy to visit. It all began with the Greeks who established vineyards here. This area is also known for the production of olives and citrus.
Calabria is the least visited regions in the country, which is why you need to add it to your itinerary. It is a culinary gem you might have never heard of. When in Calabria, try the red Gaglioppo or the white Greco from the different wineries present here.
This Italian wine region has contrasting weather and temperature that give different flavors from one vineyard to another.
Abruzzo has the most beautiful vineyards in Italy and is located in central Italy. The activity of winemaking was introduced in Abruzzo in the 6th century BC and it has grown over the last 50 years.
Abruzzo is a mountainous region and is a new hot tourist destination and is known for the beautiful beaches and spectacular hiking trails.
Abruzzo is known for a different generation of wine experts, entrepreneurs, and penologists who are the driving force for the improvement in wine. When in Abruzzo, try white Trebbiano and red Montepulciano.
The reigning region of Italian wines, a true wine lover cannot skip Tuscany. Located in the endless rolling hills and over the cobble country roads, Tuscany is a picturesque destination. It is utterly gorgeous and is one of the best wine regions in Italy. It is popular for the outstanding dine and wine scene.
Besides Florence and Pisa, there are several other places to visit in Tuscany. It should be on everyone’s itinerary visiting Italy. Tuscany is one of the most prolific wine regions where you can enjoy Tuscany wine tours with a Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino.
If you want to know what are the top wines in Italy, you might want to ask the locals.
Florence is the best town to stay in when visiting the wine regions of Italy.
Located on the fertile Northern region of Italy, Emilia-Romagna has more than 55,000 hectares in vineyards and it makes the best wines in the country. It is famously known as an ideal destination for food and fantasy.
Originally introduced by Etruscans and then taken over by the Romans, the wines here are outstanding. It offers the finest wines of northern Italy.
Try a sparkling Lambrusco or a Sangiovese when in this excellent Italian wine region.
Lambrusco is a famous wine that is hard to come by. It’s a sparkling red wine that is served chilled and is absolutely delicious. When it comes to the choice of wine, you will be spoilt because it has an exceptional variety.
Lazio is known for the volcanic soils which are ideal for growing Italian grapes. It is because of this soil that grapes get the right mix of acidity. The area also enjoys a cool sea breeze and has breathtaking beaches.
When in Lazio, try Malvasia di Candia or young Trebbiano.
Lombardy is situated in northern Italy and it is landlocked. However, vines have grown on the shores of the grand lakes for many years.
It tempers the climate of the vineyard zones which falls in the region.
Lombardy has an ideal area between the Po Basin and Alps that has led to a huge array of mesh climates. It has more than 300 museums across the territory and attracts millions of tourists each year. You can take a guided food and wine tour through different areas in Lombardy.
Lombardy’s Pinot Grigio, however, is excellent. Around Oltrepò Pavese it’s especially good. The sparkling wine is called Franciacorta and is produced using the same grapes as Champagne.
This area is also known for producing some excellent Pinot Nero (what they call Pinot Noir), Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Blanc.
When in Lombardy, do not forget to try the sparkling Franciacorta or red Valtellina to get the taste of the beautiful area’s wines.
Best known as Apulia, Puglia is located on the far south-east corner of the Italian peninsula. It has the climate and soil conditions that vary from north to south. Puglia is divided into three different areas and it is a paradise for nature lovers.
However, it is less touristy making it a great place to visit during peak tourism in Italy.
The capital of Puglia, Bari has everything to offer. It has shopping, history, architecture, food and so much more. It has breathtaking beaches and it is one of the best wine regions in Italy.
When here, try the Impigno or a Salmon hued rosé.
When it comes to Italian wine, Molise is not very popular across the world. It gained independence recently and has since then worked to build a wine offering in the world. Molise is Italy’s best kept secret and is an underpopulated region.
It is the youngest and the second smallest wine region in Italy.
Because of the diverse geography and climate, and a unique soil combination that is favorable for the growth of grapes, it has managed to create interest in their exceptional wines. If you happen to be in Molise, try Montepulciano based blend or Trebbiano Toscano.
A guide to the best wine regions to visit in Italy remains incomplete without the mention of Sicily. The island is one of the biggest in the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the best wine regions in Italy.
Sicily has enjoyed a strong reputation as an epicenter of the wine culture for more than 2,000 years.
It receives adequate sunshine and moderate rainfall which makes the climate ideal for the production of grapes. There are many things to do and see in Sicily that will pair nicely with your wine tours during your visit. It remains at the top of the itinerary for most tourists. Try the core Sicilian wines of Marsala or dry white wine during your visit.
Zibibbo is a fragrant sweet wine produced on the Sicilian island of Pantelleria, but rather than being fortified, the grapes are allowed to ferment in the sun, resulting in a Marsala-style beverage with similar characteristics but lower alcohol content.
The winemaking history of Marche spans across a thousand years and it has been influenced by Romans, Lombards, and Etruscans. This wine culture explains the breadth of vinicultural tradition and different wine styles in the area.
Marche is located on the eastern side of central Italy and it covers more than 25,000 hectares. It is one of the twenty regions of Italy yet one of the least known regions. It has a production of more than 2 million hectoliters of wine every year. You should try a cold Verdicchio with seafood to make the most of local wine in this region.
11. Valle d’Aosta
Popularly known as Aosta Valley, this region is surrounded in the hilly part of Northwest Italy. It is ideally situated where Italy borders Switzerland and France. Valle d’ Aosta is the smallest wine region in Italy and not visited by many tourists.
It has the advantage of a location and a major part of this region used for viticulture receives the best temperature variation.
It remains highly warm in the day and extremely cold at night. This allows the local vignerons to use the right techniques for the creation of wine.
Try the Picotendro which is a local form of Nebbiolo or the Pinot Noir rosé.
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Located in the southern region of Italy, Basilicata is known for a unique Greek viticultural heritage. It was the Greeks that first introduced vineyards in this region and today it still enjoys Balkan breeze and ample sunshine, which initially inspired the first vignerons to live here.
Basilicata has stunning parks, rich cuisine, and great beaches which attract tourists from across the world. You can enjoy a cave stay in Basilicata. Try Aglianico or a Malvasia when in this region.
Campania is on the shin of the country of Italy. This Italian wine region is known for growing the finest Italian varietals which include a large bunch that does not grow elsewhere on the Earth.
Campania is popular for the beautiful landscapes and the climate. It remains surrounded by hills and is less touristy. Not many are aware of the beauty and serenity that this region offers.
Drink the Falerno here, it is an ancient Italian wine or try white Greco.
A stunning coastal region, Linguria runs on the Mediterranean coast. This region is flanked by the France border and Tuscany. It is separated into two regions by the Riveria. It is difficult to grow grapes here but there are many vineyards that are managed by artisanal producers who grow Italian wine grapes on terraces.
There are some regions that are not easily accessible and can be reached by boat and are completely cultivated by hand.
Known for white wines, Liguria is an opportunity to try Vermentino and spicy Rossese.
Seafood plays a prominent role in the local diet here.
15. Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Known as the best quality region for the production of wine, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is acclaimed for the efforts of a group of small scale producers who are working with local grape varieties.
You will find the finest quality of wine in this region.
Unlike the Italian counterparts, the winemakers experiment with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. It is a culturally diverse area and offers food and wine options.
Wines from this region are praised across Italy. They also produce some high quality sparkling wine using the famous Charmat method. If you are here, try a Prosecco.
Venezia is also one of the most famous Italian wine regions for producing Pinot Grigio.
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Located in northwest Italy, Piedmont has the best seat in the finest wine areas of Italy. It boasts of some of the most beautiful towns and picturesque villages.
It is famous for the tannic red wine, but its success story lies in the sparkling white Moscato d’Asti. Include it in your itinerary, do not miss the best wine regions in Italy.
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Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. The style of this Italian wine region is similar to that of Spain and it can be seen in various varieties that grow here.
If you happen to visit Sardinia, try the Moscato Bianco or Grenache.
When in Sardinia, you will get several options to choose from. If you are confused, ask the locals.
18. Trentino-Alto Adige
Known for the local Schiava and Lagrein varieties in the last century, Trentino-Alto Adige wines are highly popular now. It remains one of the best wine regions in Italy. This region is known for international varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco (white wine).
All wines produced in this region bear the hallmark of the region which has a political and cultural past as complex and dramatic as the climate and geography.
Modern wine-making techniques prevail in this Italian wine region and it is also the only wine region in Italy that has increased the planted area in the last two decades.
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Umbria is ideally located in the heart of the Italian wine region and it is surrounded by Marche, Lazio, and Tuscany.
It is less popular than many of its neighbors in terms of grape yield but it is known for the top quality wine produced from varietals like Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you want to try a different wine, try the barrel-fermented Chardonnay. This is a popular spot to stay for wine lovers as you can explore some of the most famous Italian wine regions in a short period of time.
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One of the best and highly notable Italian wine regions, Veneto has an impressive variety of red wines and white wines.
If you are traveling to Italy, it is best to take wine tours across different regions. You will not only get an opportunity to taste the finest Italian wines but you will also learn about the wine-making process.
A wine tour is one of the best experiences you can indulge in when in Italy. When it comes to places to drink wine in Italy, you will be spoilt for choice. It’s one of the best places to visit in Northern Italy.
Different Wine Styles Produced in Italy
Sangiovese grapes are used to make Italian wine. There is also Italian wine known as amaretino, which is produced using local Italian grapes.
Italian wines may be produced from international grapes like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, too. These grape types will provide an individual flavor and flair to the Italian wine.
The soil, climate, altitude, and grape varietals in each region produce various Italian wines with distinct characteristics owing to the local conditions. Tuscany’s Italian Wine has a fruitier profile than Piedmont’s. Vencan Italian Wine is richer than Sicilian wine, while Puglian wine is richer than Sicily’s.
Wines from diverse Italian areas are distinctive, yet they’re just as nice and pleasurable on their own.
Chianti is well-known in Tuscany for its Sangiovese-based wines, which highlight the finest qualities of this treasured Italian grape variety. The unique characteristics of these wines come from Puglia key’s winemakers being made of Italian grapes, which flourish in the hot Italian sun.
Meanwhile, wines coming from Italy’s oldest wine regions of Campania feature Italian grape varietals that grow on volcanic soil.
Super Tuscans are blends of local (Sangiovese) and non-indigenous grapes like as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Some of the most beautiful Super Tuscan wines include Tignanello, Masseto, Solaia, and Sassicaia.
A Sangiovese 100% wine Brunelloica di Sardegna is Italian wine with Italian varietals that has a cheerful character. Montepulciano is a red wine grape that produces medium-bodied wine with gentle tannins, approachable fruit flavors and subtle earthly notes.
Italian wines from Trentino-Alto Adige are widely renowned for their fruitiness. Italian wines from Friuli-Venezia Giulia are both rich and dry, which makes them distinctive Italian wines that bear the flavors of the Italian grape, and Barbaresco come from this region in Italy.
There are 350 varieties recognized in the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forests including many grape varieties.
The indisputable king of Italian grapes is the magnificent Sangiovese grape, from which Italian wines like Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino are made and make them some of the most famous wine in Italy.
Classifications in Various Italian Wine Regions
Some Italian wines have elaborate official marks in the necks of them. Described in Italian as fascetta, this Italian seal also contains either the following letters: DOC (blue) or DOCG (gold).
Why does each of those letters mean something? Who is reading this?
We need to learn about Italian wines 101 to understand the Italian wines on the labels. Let’s see what ‘italic wine’ can be for you.
An Italian appellation system was officially launched in 1963 and modified according to EU Regulations in 2010 to categorize Italian wines. The terminology may help you in the read if you know an Italian wine label or menu.
- The GC-An abbreviation of the Distribution of Controlling Origin: There are 74 DOCGs available in Italy, with the most recent debuting in 2011.
- Riserva: Describes a long-aged or unusual wine, although rules differ depending on denominational divisions.
- Superiore: A higher quality designation that is generally accompanied by a local.
Knowing each of these is essential before you sample and tour any of the Italian wine regions mentioned herein.
DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata – DOCG
Italy takes one of its main export markets very seriously and there are still only 76 DOCG regions. Piemonte Veneto and Toscana make up almost all the 21 regions.
The published disciplinar describes the exact requirements of determining which wine bears the DOCG name and DOC status.
There are currently just 76 territories in Italy and Piemonte crown the most with the most grapes in these top three regions (Toscana Piema and Veneto).
- Asti – Sparking wine from Piemonte Barolo
- Red wine from Amarone o la Valpolicella
- Red wine from Veneto Fiano da Avellin
IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)
The Typical Geographic Indication illustrates that the wine is still from a particular area. Some of the famous wines of super Tuscans on the market are labeled as such. That’s without any means to say that it. Wine are of lesser quality.
DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)
More relaxed in standard standards than its DOCG-related cousins the controlled distribution of source assures that wine is from a certain region but could include different types of grapes. In spite of the relaxed standards they currently offer more than 30 DOCG Italian wines.
- Montepulciano – Abruzzé : Abruzzé’s wine
- Nero from Asturias wine from Sicily
- Venetian sparkling wine
- Roque de etna Sicilians mix
- Collio Pinot Grigio White Wine Friul
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