Looking for Italy wine regions to visit? Think of Italy and you can’t help but think of incredible food and drink; pizza, pasta, bread, olives, risotto, cheeses, meats… all paired expertly with a glass of Italian vino. Italy is one of the world’s oldest and largest wine-producers, with an approximate area of 702,000 hectares (1,730,000 acres) of vineyards.
The nation’s thriving viticulture industry has origins in Italy’s Etruscan and Greek ancestors, who settled in Italy and established vineyards before the Romans started growing grapes on the land around the 2nd century AD.
Italian wine is such a vast topic for a thirsty visitor to wrap their head around, so this guide to the best wines of Italy by region aims to help you plan which grape names and wines to look for, depending on which wine region of Italy you’re visiting.
Italian Wine Terms
There is an Italian appellation system, first officially launched in 1963 and last modified in 2010 in line with EU regulations, which categorizes Italian wines. These terms may help you when you’re reading an Italian wine label or menu:
- Vini (Generic Wines) – These are wines that can be produced anywhere and the label doesn’t indicate geographical origin or the vintage e.g. simply “red wine.”
- Vini Varietali (Varietal Wines) – Wines made from at least 85% of one variety of authorized international grape; Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.
- Vini IPG or IGT (Wines with a Protected Geographical Indication) – These are wines produced in a specific territory.
- Vini DOP (Wines with Protected Designation of Origin) – These are wines that typically come from small regions within an IPG territory, noted for the influence of climate and geography, quality and local winemaking traditions.
- Classico – A wine produced in the original historic center of a protected territory.
- Superiore – A wine with a higher percentage of alcohol by volume necessary for the appellation (this usually means it has been made with higher quality grapes).
- Riserva – A wine that has been aged for a minimum period of time.
20 Key Italy Wine Regions
Italy’s 20 wine regions correspond to the country’s administrational regions, as every region produces some form of wine. However, the varieties are diverse, as Italy’s geography stretches from Alpine territory in the north, all the way down to the hot and dry southern temperatures, reaching the top of Africa.
What’s more, there are 350 official Italian wine varieties and an estimated 2,000 different Italian grapes – so familiarizing yourself with all the different wines to try is no easy task. This list names each wine-producing region of Italy and what that region is known for, the grapes and the wines produced from them, structured roughly from north to south, with Sardinia and Sicily at the end.
1. Aosta Valley (Valle D’Aosta)
Best known for Pinot Noir, Gamay, Nebbiolo and Petit Rouge
The smallest and northernmost Italian winemaking region, the Alpine Aosta Valley also has the highest elevation, growing grapes up to 4,000 feet above sea level.
The region is best known for its red wines, mainly blends of Pinot Noir, Gamay, Nebbiolo and Petit Rouge. However, Prié Blanc white wines, produced from a grape indigenous to the region, are growing in popularity.
2. Lombardy (Lombardia)
Best known for sparkling Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco
The cooling of the Alpine lakes made Lombardia a perfect place for producing sparkling wines.
Lombardy’s most famous wine is probably Franciacorta, a sparkling wine made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco, in the same style as Champagne, though some light and pinot-like Nebbiolo and Verdicchio wines are also produced here.
3. Trentino-Alto Adige
Best known for white and sparkling wines with Germanic influences
Influenced by bordering Austria, some of the grapes grown in this region are more commonly found in German winemaking, such as Riesling, Blatterle, Sylvaner, Vernatsch, Müller-Thurgau, Lagrein and Gewürztraminer.
Pinot Nero, Schiava and Lagrein are the most popular for reds, while Pinot Grigio is the preferred grape for whites, though Chardonnay is used in Trento’s traditional sparkling wines, which are said to rival Champagne.
4. Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Best known for Pinot Grigio
Located in the northeastern corner of Italy, bordering Austria and Slovenia, the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia ranges from Alpine landscapes to flatlands along the Adriatic coast.
A wide range of grape varieties are grown here, though the majority of production focuses on white wines, primarily from Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla and Fiulano. Merlot, Refosco and Schioppettino are grown for reds.
The Pinot Grigio wines here are noted for their intense flavors, Sauvignon Blanc for its meaty character, while the Merlot is savory, known for its umami.
Best known for Prosecco, Soave and Amarone
Veneto’s wine offerings are diverse, befitting the different microclimates in the region, shaped by the Alps, Lake Garda and the Adriatic Sea.
The best examples are sparkling Prosecco from Pinot Grigio and rich Soave wines from Garganega, to Vespaiolo and Moscato dessert wines, to blended reds such as Merlot, Carménère and Rossignola. Amarone della Valpolicella (sometimes abbreviated to just Amarone) is a rich, dry red wine made from Valpolicella grapes.
6. Piedmont (Piemonte)
Best known for Nebbiolo and Barbera
Located at the base of the western Alps, this region’s climate benefits from chilly mountain temperatures, as well as the heat of the Mediterranean.
Piedmont’s winemaking provinces of Cuneo, Alessandria and Asti focus on Barolo and Barbaresco wines, mostly made using Nebbiolo – a grape noted for its high tannins, pale color and acidity – though Barbera and Dolcetto grapes are sometimes also used. Asti is famous for Moscato d’Asti spumante, which is a gentle and sweet sparkling wine.
Best known for Lambrusco
One of the country’s oldest wine regions, Emilia-Romagna boasts around 55,000 hectares of vineyards, though is equally as known for its incredible food, such as Italian favorites parmesan cheese, prosciutto, and balsamic vinegar.
The region is best known for off-dry to dry Lambrusco, a sweet and fruity sparkling red wine, though red and white, such as Sangiovese, Malvasia, Trebbiano and Barbera, are also produced here, with Trebbiano being the most popular.
Best known for Bosco, Albarola, Vermentino and Rossese
Located along the Italian Riviera, the five villages of Liguria’s Cinque Terre produce white wines, such as Bosco, Albarola and Vermentino.
The blended whites benefit from the salinity of sea air, and pair perfectly with seafood. To the west, red and rosé wines are produced from fruity and fragrant Rossese grapes (known as Tibouren in French).
9. Tuscany (Toscana)
Best known for Chianti, Montalcino and Montepulciano
Tuscany is one of the most reputable winemaking regions of Italy, renowned for rolling hills, cobbled country roads, and endless scenic vineyards. A trip into the Tuscan countryside on a wine tour is an essential thing to do while visiting the region (if you can tear yourself away from Florence, Pisa, and Siena), especially the Chianti area or Bunello di Montalcino.
Tuscany is also known for the “Super Tuscan.” These are bold, high-quality red wines that blend Sangiovese with non-native grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, and are highly sought-after. The term was coined in the early 1980’s to differentiate red blends produced using grapes non-indigenous to Italy from other Tuscan wines, such as Chianti.
10. Le Marche
Best known for Trebbiano and Verdicchio
Marche (pronounced Mar-Kay) produces light, fruity red wines, such as Sangiovese and Montepulciano, but is most famous for its aromatic white wines made from Verdicchio grapes.
Other grapes to look out for include Pecorino for whites (not to be confused with Pecorino cheese) and Lacrima grapes, which are likened to fruity Syrah.
Best known for Trebbiano and Grechetto
The historic wine town of Orvieto is one of Umbria’s main winemaking attractions, and the Orvieto appellation is home to 80% of the region’s vineyards, growing Trebbiano and Grechetto – the latter offers a dry and crisp wine that is best enjoyed young, with zesty, minerally qualities and a flavor akin to green almonds.
Elsewhere in the region, reds such as Sagrantino (a dark local grape) and strawberry-flavored Sangiovese are produced.
Best known for Trebbiano and Malvasia
Home to the capital city of Rome, Lazio, like many of Italy’s central appellations, produces easy-drinking, youthful white wines from Trebbiano, Grechetto and Malvasia grapes (Malvasia di Candia and Malvasia Puntinata), the latter of which have an aromatic, rich and sweet character.
Best known for Montepulciano and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
The mountainous region of Abruzzo is famous for its beautiful vineyards and the Montepulciano grape, which is used to make red and rosé wines, while Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is the primary white grape grown here. Interestingly, around 60% of the grapes grown here are sold to other regions for blending.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo isn’t to be confused with the Tuscan Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is made from Sangiovese grapes. Rather, the Montepulciano grape creates a dark, rich wine with herbaceous tones and high tannins.
Best known for Trebbiano Toscao and Bombino Bianco
Part of Abruzzo until the 1960’s, tiny Molise blends Trebbiano Toscano and Bombino Bianco for whites, Montepulciano and Sangiovese for reds, and also grows the native Tintilla grape for sparkling wine.
Best known for Negroamaro and Primitivo
Puglia’s dry heat produces juicy olives as well as deeply ripe grapes with fruit-forward flavors.
Robust and bold red wines are produced from native Negroamaro grapes, but the region is also famous for Primitivo (better known as Zinfandel internationally) and great value Chardonnay.
Best known for Falerno, Fiano and Greco
Campania’s famous Falerno is a wine with origins in Ancient Rome, made using dark, rustic Aglianico grapes, which are noted for their high, meaty tannins and traditionally take around 10 years of aging before they are drinkable.
Other volcanic red wines made using these grapes are Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno. In terms of whites, Fiano grapes product Fiano di Avellino and Greco grapes produce Greco di Tufo, the latter of which are refreshing, with a bitter almond aftertaste.
Best known for Aglianico
The mountainous and landlocked region of Basilicata is not as much known for wines as its neighbors, Campania and Puglia, but the signature wine is the full-bodied Aglianico del Vulture, produced from black Aglianico grapes.
Best known for Gaglioppo and Greco Nero
Found on Italy’s southwest coast, Calabria is flanked by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, almost touching the island of Sicily. The region is one of the least-visited in the country, but has a long history of viticulture, which was first established by Greek vineyards, so makes for an ideal addition to an Italian wine-lover’s itinerary.
Calabria’s reds are produced from Gaglioppo grapes, while the whites are blended with Greco Bianco and Montonico Bianco.
19. Sardinia (Sardegna)
Best known for Grenache, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon
The Mediterranean island of Sardinia grows mainly French and Spanish grapes, as well as some rare grapes, such as Monica and Nasco.
Salty and floral wines produced from Vermentino can be found in the north, while Cannonau (the local name for the Grenache grape) and Carignano (Carignan) are popular all over.
20. Sicily (Sicilia)
Best known for Marsala and Moscato
The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is known for fortified wines, such as Marsala, and sweet dessert wines such as Moscato di Pantelleria.
Nero d’Avola is used to produce fruity, medium-bodied reds (sometimes blended with Frappato), as is Nerello Mascalese in the Etna area. Also around Etna, white Carricante grapes are grown.
More Italian Wine Varieties
Are you reaching for a glass and a bottle yet, or studying those you already have in your pantry, learning about what the different terms on the bottle labels mean?
We hope this guide to Italy’s wine regions has you thirsty for a glass of vino and has informed you of which grape varieties and types of wine to try per region, whether you’re traveling to the country or traveling via your taste buds by pouring out an Italian wine to try at home.
Let us know if you found this guide helpful in the comments and be sure to share the names of your favorite Italian wines.