When we think of Italy, instantly images of stone-baked pizza, gelato, blue skies, beautiful architecture, and warm sunshine spring to mind. And, of course, one of our favorite parts of Italy, a culinary delight that is 100% synonymous with the beautiful country, the wine.
Italy is home to some of the most stunning vineyards in the world. With numerous award-winning wines being created all over Italy, it’s easy to understand why a wine tasting trip there is on many people’s travel bucket lists.
About Italian Wines
Do you know where can you find the best wine from the best wineries in Italy? There are many famous wine regions in Italy to explore. I can be totally mesmerized by vineyards. The rows of perfectly manicured vines stretching on forever under a beautiful blue sky are captivating.
Just take a look at this video by Claudio Zavagno that shows off the stunning beauty of Prosecco land in Veneto, Italy. If this doesn’t convince you to travel to Italy, I don’t know what will.
We love the vast array of wines you can get in Italy, and the choices there are when it comes to taking a wine tasting trip. You so many people flock to Tuscany for wine, take a second to consider all of these Italian wine areas and see if one might interest you.
You’ll also hear us speak of DOCG and DOC wines in this post. In Italy, there is a specific set of rules governing the production of wine, to safeguard its reputation. There are three different categories of decreasing strictness: DOCG, DOC, and IGT. DOCG is obviously the highest in quality standards that you can buy in Italy.
It stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. Now you know, for when you see it listed on an Italian wine label. The destinations, of course, also give weight to the cost of the wine. DOCG wines sell for for the highest price.
You can trust that wines in this category are also of the highest quality. Check out this site for more information about the Italian wine classifications.
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Where to Go Wine Tasting in Italy
Umbria is located in the centre of Italy, and is exactly how you would envision a traditional, quaint, Italian region to be. With historic villages located high on the hills, lush green vineyards covering the hillsides, and pleasant weather when it matters the most, Umbria is a real gem in the wine-making world.
Each year the region produces an average of 26 million gallons of wine, thanks in part to its unique climate. The winters are cool and wet, whereas the summers are warm and dry, with plenty of sunshine. Umbria primarily produces white wines, though ironically one of its most popular wines is a red.
Sagrantino grapes are used to produce red DOCG wines that have great depths and complexity. Orvieto is a popular white varietal that produces dry, yet fruity notes, often with citrus aromas.
Tuscany is also situated in central Italy, and is home to 9 DOCG wines, and 33 DOC wines. There’s no wonder Tuscany is so popular, as it’s home to regions like Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
These regions all primarily use the Sangiovese grape. Chianti is the most famous of all Tuscan wines. Greve in Chianti is the epicenter of this vast region.
Montalcino wines are also hugely popular. Produced in a stunning location high on the hilltops, Montalcino is famous for Brunello wines, which have stunning garnet colours and provides notes of vanilla, berries, and even aromatic wood. With countless wineries in the region, Tuscany is well worth visiting.
If you’d rather not plan your own Tuscany wine tour, you can rely on the expertise of a guide or driver. We usually rent a car and do a self-guided tour, but we did have a private driver in Montalcino who to us around to our pre-planned stop.
Mt, Etna, Sicily
Situated in NW Sicily, Mt Etna is a vibrant wine region that is the home of an active Volcano. In the region of Mt Etna, you will primarily find dry wines, both red and whites, though some rose wines are also produced in the region.
The region is famous for the Nero D’Avola grape, along with a few other native grapes. Etna Rossos (Etna Reds) have a sharp, yet very pleasant aftertaste, thanks in part to the rich tannins. With a stunning vibrant color, spicy aromas, and tasting notes of berries, Etna Rosso is a firm favorite.
Wine tasting in Mt. Etna is relatively easy, though not all wineries are open for wine tasting. The town of Catania is a good homebase for reaching the wineries on the southern slopes of Mt. Etna. You can drive to many of the wineries within about 30 minutes. Just make sure to plan ahead and make appointments.
Book a wine tasting tour in Sicily:
- Private 6-Hour Tour of Three Etna Wineries with Tasting
- Etna Countryside Food and Wine Lovers Tour (Private or Small Group)
The 8th largest region in the country, Veneto is located in NE Italy and produces 14 DOCGs and 28 DOC wines. Perhaps the most famous variety of wine produced in the region, is one which is currently taking the developed world by storm – Prosecco.
This sparkling wine, made from white grapes, is the champagne of the 12st century and people can’t get enough of it. Valpolicella is another popular wine, this one red, which is made from a blend of three unique grapes. Most reds in this region contain Corvina, which is arguably the most popular red in the region.
It’s easy to reach Veneto from the Venice airport. You will need to rent a car to get around to the wineries, but it’s very easy to form your own self-guided wine tasting tour around the Prosecco area.
Book a wine tour
In Piedmont, the towns of Alba and Asti are at the heart of the region’s wine industry, which is ranked 6th out of the 20, in terms of wine production. Piedmont produces more DOCG wines that anywhere else in the country.
There are 59 subregions in Piedmont. And you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s home to the two hugely popular and renown red wines of Barbaresco and Barolo. Both of these wines offer a unique experience because they are made to age, with intense tannins and acid that allows the wines to balance out to a smooth velvety mouthfeel over time.
You can keep one of these wines for 30+ years. The Piedmont region is located in the foothills of the Alps, bordering France and Switzerland. It has a unique climate and terroir due to its location. Some of the area gets covered regularly with a low-lying fog that helps to ripen the Nebbiolo grape, another popular Piedmont varietal.
Lambrusco – both the name of a grape and a sparkling sweet red wine that is made from it – is the most famous wine produced in Emilia Romagna, though it really comes more from the Emilia side of things.
According to winefoodemiliaromagna.com, “Emilia was settled by the Barbarians who had a diet heavy in fatty foods like butter and pork, and needed a sparkling wine as a palette cleanser. Romagna, on the other hand, was settled by the Romans who used olive oil as a staple in their diet and needed a very different wine to balance flavors.”
This is why there are two very different types of wine coming out of this area, which is really two distinct areas that are combined in one region.
The Romagna Wine Region of Italy is the smaller, but very distinctive Sangiovese-growing cousin to Tuscany. When you think of Italian wine regions, you probably think of Tuscany or Piedmont; you may not even be aware of smaller wine producing regions, like Romagna because they are often overshadowed by their larger neighbors.
In Romagna, though, there are nearly 213 winemakers who would love to change that, and to be sure you’ve had the chance to try their wines, and see the passion and love they have for their region through the wines they produce.
The Consorzio Vini di Romagna has taken on the important job of helping promote the wines of Romagna to the world, and we also want to do our part to make sure everyone knows about this lovely wine region, with its beautiful rolling hills and incredibly dedicated winemakers.
Lombardy, located in north-central Italy, is a wine region primarily known for its sparkling wines from Franciacorta and Oltrepo-Pavese.
The region produces red wines from Nebbiolo grapes in the Valtellina region and rosé wines in areas around Lake Garda. Lombardy is well placed to offer a wide range of wine styles.
Lombardy is entirely landlocked, bordered by Piedmont to the west, Emilia-Romagna to the south and Veneto to the west. The climate-moderating effect of lakes where the vines are grown, like Como, Iseo, Maggiore and Garda, provides a cooler, more elevated environment for the grapes and you can see that in the wines.
Three of the top wines to look for from this area include the sparkling Oltrepo Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG, the sparkling Franciacorta DOCG, and the Nebbiolo grape variety known as Chiavennasca from Valtelinna.
While we’ve only listed a handful of where to find the best wineries in Italy, we’ve included the most popular and easiest to visit. If you’re able to get around to a few of these regions, you’ll start to see why Italy is so loved by wine and food lovers.
The two really go hand-in-hand, and accentuate the culture of the Italians who grow and nurture the vineyards all year round. In case you’re looking for other fantastic wine regions, check out our post on the top 10 wine tasting destinations around the world.
What are your favorite Italian wine regions? Have you visited one that has a special place in your memories?
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Laura is the founder and editor of the travel blogs Savored Sips and Savored Journeys. She is dedicated to sharing the best information about drinks found around the world.