With a winemaking history that dates back to the eighth century BC, Tuscany is one of Italy’s oldest wine regions. The rolling hills, iconic cypress trees and medieval hilltop villages also place it among the country’s most beautiful. The area is home to the legendary wines of Chianti, and red Sangiovese makes up nearly half of its grape plantings. While Sangiovese is sometimes the basis for the famous “Super Tuscan” wines of the region, these highly coveted reds may also include non-indigenous grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Warm sunshine and just the right amount of rain have helped make Sicily an important wine region for millenniums. It first made its mark on the international wine world with Marsala, the famous fortified wine, and now produces the most wine and wine grapes of any region in Italy. Where the island once focused on crafting simple, everyday wines for local consumption, today it’s known for its high-quality offerings from both local grape varieties, like Nero d’Avola and Catarratto, and international ones, such as Merlot and Syrah.
Smaller than Tuscany and Piedmont, Veneto is still recognized as one of Italy’s most important and diverse wine-growing regions. Situated in northeastern Italy, it has a landscape that’s as varied as its styles. Wine lovers exploring Veneto are spoiled for choice, including rich, dark Amarone made from slightly dried concentrated grapes; crisp, sparkling Prosecco; refreshing Valpolicella and elegant Soave.
Recognized as an important winemaking region since the middle ages, Italy’s northern Piedmont region shares a border with both Switzerland and France, and is home to the famous communes of Barolo and Barbaresco. Red wines predominate, made largely from indigenous grapes like Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, but sparkling wines, including Asti, Moscato and Cortese-based whites from around the town of Gavi, are also worth exploring.
Italy was the world's largest wine producer in 2018.
Italy is home to 350 officially recognized grape varieties and hundreds more unofficial ones.
Italy produced 5.48 billion litres of wine in 2018.
Italy’s signature grape is the dominant variety in some of the country’s best-known wines: Chianti, Brunello and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, in particular. Medium-bodied, round and rustic, Sangiovese often shows strawberry, red cherry and ripe plum flavours overlaid with aromas of leather and autumn leaves, and it typically receives a little oak aging. Sangiovese’s higher acidity and moderate to firm tannins make it an excellent food wine.
Try It With: Serve Brunello, heavier-style Chianti and Vino Nobile Riserva with herbed lamb, hearty game dishes and steak. Lighter-style Chianti goes well with pizza, pasta, cheese and salumi.
One of Italy’s most recognized whites, zesty Pinot Grigio makes refreshing, aromatic wines that are much loved around the world. It’s grown throughout the country, but those considered the best versions come from northern areas like Collio and Alto Adige. White peach and apple flavours are common, with tangerine, almond, nutmeg and yuzu also making appearances.
Try It With: Pair this wine with antipasto, salads (especially seafood- and vegetable-based ones) and fritto misto. It’s wonderful with light pasta sauces and vegetable-based risotto. To enhance the pairing, add a splash of Pinot Grigio to the recipe.
Widely grown throughout Italy, and the magic ingredient in some famous Super Tuscan wines, Merlot is a major player in the Italian wine scene. Complex and rich with a full, velvety body and soft tannins, it has red berry and black cherry flavours that blend into earthy licorice, clove and cedar aromas.
Try It With: Pair lighter-style Merlots (usually from northern Italy) with pizza, pasta (with tomato-based sauces) and grilled white meats (pork, chicken or veal). Serve richer, riper Merlots with roast, grilled lamb or steak, or roast poultry.
Also known as Ugni Blanc in France, Trebbiano is responsible for half of the white wine made in Italy. Renowned for making light, crisp and refreshing wines, it shows plenty of citrus elements, especially lemon and lime zest, along with almond and apricot flavours.
Try It With: Trebbiano is well-suited to simple fare. Sip it with light fish or pasta, like a seafood pasta. It’s also great with appetizers, antipasto platters, bruschetta, salads and light white meats such as chicken.
Italy’s widely planted grape makes full-bodied, dark and brooding wines that are redolent with dried herbs, black pepper, vanilla and dark berries. An intriguing smokiness is also common, alongside leather and tobacco elements. With its moderate tannins and acidity, Montepulciano is superb paired with rich dishes.
Try It With: Roasted pork, burgers, smoky barbecued meats, pasta bolognese or meat loaf.
Italian Chardonnay tends to come in three styles, ranging from crisp, citrusy and unoaked to fruity and lightly oaked to a fuller oaked style with tropical fruit and vanilla notes.
Try It With: Pair zesty Chardonnay with simply seasoned chicken or light seafood. For lightly oaked styles, choose creamy pasta dishes, risotto or mild curry. Enjoy tropical varieties of Chardonnay with salmon, veal chops in mushroom sauce or rich shellfish dishes.