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Facts About Italian Wine & Wine Regions

italys wine country

Italy and wine are synonymous to one another. The nation boasts over 18 wine-making regions that produce over 350 varieties. Hence, the complexities involved in viticulture are interesting and overwhelming. According to a survey, Italy has earned the title of the best country for wine lovers across the globe. Some of the excellent wines that are from Italy include Amarone, Barolo, Abruzzo, Barbaresco and so on. The country also flaunts over 10 wine roads that look like the stuff of dream for oenophiles. If you are wondering where to start from, we have put up a guide to help you know the wine region better.


With a wine history that goes back to 4000 years, Italy has earned accolades for being the largest wine-making country across the globe. When the Greeks came to Southern Italy, grape cultivation was a very common sight. Thus, they named it Oenotria (land of wine). Even the Etruscans were passionate about wine. With the passing time, Italian wine-making process became advanced and eventually, the country earned an international reputation for producing a plethora of extraordinary wines.

Grape Varietals

Wine Varietals

With countless varietals, Italian wine regions flaunt white, red and sparkling wines that are loved by consumers all over the world.

Red Wine Grapes

  • Nebbiolo
  • A variety found in the Piedmont region, Nebbiolo grapes are known for producing tannic wines. These grapes go into the most expensive Italian wines namely Barbaresco and Barolo.

  • Sangiovese
  • Sangiovese is the pride and glory of Tuscan wine. This is the most common variety that you will find across Italy but scarce in other parts. Sangiovese is a major component of the famed Chianti and Brunello.

  • Lambrusco
  • Lambrusco is a grape variety found in the Emilia Romagna region. This varietal is used in the production of light, red wine that goes by the same name.

White Wine Grapes

  • Trebbiano
  • Trebbiano is one of the common Italian wine grapes. This grape varietal is found in Italian white wines and also goes in the production of Balsamic Vinegar and Cognac.

  • Cortese
  • Cortese is the most commonly grown grape variety in the Piedmont region. This lime-scented variety is the main component in the production of Cortese di Gavi, another popular dry Italian white wine.

  • Arneis
  • Usually grown in Piedmont, Arneis is blended in the famed Roero DOC, another great wine from Italy.

Sparkling Wine Grapes

Italy Vineyards

  • Prosecco
  • Prosecco is an aromatic grape varietal used in the process of making sparkling wine. It is popularly known as Glera in recent times. This variety is grown in the Veneto wine region and is often consumed fresh.

  • Pinot Noir
  • Pinot Noir wins for being one of the ancient grape varieties that is used in the wine-making process. This is not an Italian native but often goes into the production of sparkling wines.

Wine Regions

There are 20 wine regions in Italy

Wine bottles

Northern Italy

  • Liguria
  • Piedmont
  • Lombardy
  • Trentino Alto Adige
  • Veneto
  • Valle d’Aosta
  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Central Italy

  • Abruzzi
  • Emilia Romagna
  • Latium
  • Molise
  • Marches
  • Tuscany
  • Umbria

Southern Italy

  • Basilicata
  • Puglia
  • Campania
  • Sardinia
  • Sicily
  • Calabria

Italian Wine Laws

Italian wine laws maintain the quality of the wines produced in the country. The laws are divided into four sections and it looks more like a pyramid. With the ground level having more wine in it compared to the other levels.

Vino da Tavola (VDT)

Vino da Tavola is the most common classification. Wine bottles labeled as VDT are your everyday drink and stands at the ground level of the pyramid. These wines can be from any region, grape or combination of grapes. One important thing to keep in mind is that the ‘Super Tuscans’ are made from grapes that are not allowed under DOC or DOCG classifications. Hence, they are labeled as Vino da Tavola.

Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT)

Indicazione Geografica Tipica sits on the next level of the pyramid. 200 wines belong to this category. IGT only indicates that the wines come from a particular region. The production processes are not monitored the way they are with the two more restrictive classifications.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)

There are over 300 wines that come under the Denominazione di Origine Controllata category. This classification comes at the third level of the pyramid and controls both the grape varieties and the region where the wine is made. The first wine that has earned the DOC status was Vernaccia di San Gimignano in Tuscany. To receive this certification, wine producers must send samples to the special tasting committees.

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOGC)

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita controls one of the most historic wines made in Italy. DOGC category stands at the highest level of the pyramid. Presently, there are only 74 wines that have earned the status and come from 15 of the 20 Italian wine regions. These wines are the finest examples of quality and consistency. The wines that come under DOGC category includes Barolo from Piedmont, Prosecco from Veneto, Franciacorta from Lombardia, Frascati Superiore from Lazio and Chianti from Tuscany.


How to read an Italian Wine label


The name of the producer plays an integral role to understand whether the wine is rare or consumed by everyone.

Type of wines

Wines in Italy are often named after a region from where it has been produced. For example, Chianti Classico is a wine from Chianti in Tuscany.

Alcohol volume

It is important to understand the alcohol volume before consuming a wine.

Grape Variety

This is often the DOC name and not an individual or combination of grape names.

With so many varieties, Italy is indeed one of the best wine countries across the globe. The soil, the weather, and the process everything plays a part in the alchemy and produces some of the greatest wines possible.

Have you ever tasted Italian wines? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Want to go for an Italian winery tour? Read this

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By Priscila (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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One Comment

  1. Carolina Giraldo
    Posted June 3, 2016 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

    I’m trying to find a Winery tour in Montalcino or Montelpuciano departing from either both of these towns.
    Thank you berry much

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