|1. Tignanello||2. Ferrari||3. Fontodi|
Even the most renowned wine connoisseurs can find it difficult to pick a suitable variety of wine from what Italy’s huge vineyards have to offer. The country has a wide range of indigenous grapes that are used to produce some of the most elegant and premium wines in the world. Labeling a few from among them as good without exploring others will be no justice.
So, we have curated a list of some of the best Italian wines in terms of their popularity in this guide. If you are struggling to figure out what Italian wine to try next, you will find the following recommendations helpful. You will also find some tips that can help you choose the perfect wine later in this guide.
Top 20 Best Italian Wines 2021
This is a premium Tuscan made using the most popular grape-combo in wine-making, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both these grapes are known for their quality. Where Sangiovese is a locally grown and widely-produced variety of Italian grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon is the premier international quality.
After an intensive process of winemaking, this wine acquires unique stability in taste along with the classic characteristics of a pure Tuscan. The blending of two different kinds of grapes also make it bold, bright red in color, juicy, and flavorful.
The alcohol content in this red wine is 13.5%, which is moderate, and it will not get you insanely drunk. It sits slightly dry on the tongue but leaves a distinct rich taste behind. As its taste is already quite overpowering, it is ideally paired up with a heavy meal of beef, lamb, or a similar type of meat.
This Tuscan is produced by the Antinori winery, which is the finest producer of Tuscans in Italy. This grand red is a bit pricey, but its quality is worth every penny you spend on it.
There is nothing quite like a good bottle of sparkling wine during a time of celebration. With an impressive ability to age for over 10 years, this Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore is one of the best Italian wines. It has a fruity aroma, rich texture, and a lot more than just the crisp bubbles on its surface. Beneath the foamy texture of this bright wine lies its delicious and delicate flavors.
It derives its fresh, fruity flavor from the premium quality of juicy Chardonnay grapes used in its making. Its final taste is delicate with a lot of earthy undertones, ending with just the right amount of bitterness. This bottle of sparkling wine will impress you with its aroma as soon as you open it. It carries the notes of strawberry, chocolate, and plum.
This fine sparkling wine dons its long-lasting, persistent bubbles as soon as it is poured into a wine glass. Its dull gold color and the sound of the crisp bubbles will leave the drinker in awe. Ferrari was founded in 1902 and is one of the leading sparkling wine producers in Italy. If you are looking for an expertly crafted bottle of Italian sparkling wine, you should get your hands on this jewel ASAP.
Purely made with the best Sangiovese grapes, this Super Tuscan red has a lot of complex aromas and a range of flavors to offer. It is the perfect balance between bold and light and carries heavy notes of oak, plum, leather, berries, and earth. It is pretty intense and gives a long finish. This wine ages well too. Some popular vintages for this wine are from the years 2007, 2011, and 2016.
This wine is high in tannins and has a luxurious texture. It also has a full body and is very potent. It will feel heavy on the tongue but is one of those few strong red wines that flow smoothly despite being so bold.
It is moderately acidic and goes well with heavy meals consisting of meat and poultry. You will also feel some delightful fruity undertones in this Sangiovese. Overall, it is a good choice for traditional Italian red wines and is quite affordable for a Super Tuscan.
Produced in central Italy’s Umbria, this wine is clean, refreshing, and fragrant. It is one of the more affordable premium Italian wines produced by one of Italy’s finest wine producers.
This white wine is made from Chardonnay grapes and has an acidic taste. It is crisp, light, and full of butter, vanilla, pear, apple, and honey undertones. This white wine tastes best when paired with light meals. You can serve it with appetizers, pasta, and vegetarian food on the table. Its fresh palate will enhance your meals and will leave a fine after-taste in your mouth.
This wine also has a rich aroma of tobacco, oak, and leather. Swirling the wine reveals some citric notes as well. The subtle secondary flavors consist of almond, white flowers, and tart stone fruits. It relieves the senses with its medium body and refreshes with its acidic finish. This white wine is Italy’s most overlooked one, and everyone should check this underrated treasure out.
No other red wine will match the Italian Valpolicella Superiore’s extravagance. Its production requires an investment of a lot of effort, time, and hard work. A traditional way to age this wine is by keeping it in oak barrels for at least 24 months. Valpolicella wines are usually filled with fruit flavors and have a smooth texture similar to California Zinfandels. It also acquires the taste of the oak over time and undertakes secondary undertones of oak, earth, and tar.
This particular bottle of wine is made using the Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes. The grape Corvina keeps the wine light while giving it a sour cherry taste and makes it less sweet in comparison to other red wines. The three different kinds of grapes give it a deep plum red color. You will find light vanilla, raisins, and ripe cherry undertones in it, and it will taste best with beef, poultry, or pasta.
This wine is low-bodied but is highly acidic. This combination makes it taste rich and smooth. The labor-intensive production of this wine and its superior quality makes it quite expensive. But the price seems reasonable when you drink it, and you can find its many layers of flavors bursting in your mouth, with a long and final peppery finish.
This red wine was also featured in Vivino’s 2020 Wine Style Awards for its delightful taste and complexity. You can truly rely on its quality and taste. It is simply one of the best Italian wines made with Valpolicella.
This red wine is produced in the Sardegna and Isola dei Nuraghi region of southern Italy. Sardegna is home to some of the most aromatic and affordable wines in Italy. This particular red wine has strong notes of oak, tobacco, plum, blackberry, leather, and earth. It is among the best Italian wines that are both strong and affordable.
Pure indigenous varieties of Grenache grapes are used in the complex process of this wine’s making. The result is a delicious, full-bodied, warm red wine. This wine has a lot of depth to it and has an alcohol content of 14.5%.
The hot climate of southern Italy reflects in the flavors of this wine. It is bold, high in tannins, and acidic as well. You will find an exclusive and overpowering spicy overtone that can only be found in grapes grown in Sardegna. This overtone can also be a little too harsh for some people.
As the wine is so potent, it is best complemented with fuller meals like lamb, beef, or pasta. However, note that you will only like this bold red if you like your drink to be overpoweringly strong. It is also a good wine for aging, and the vintages from the year 1991, 2007, and 2012 were some of the best for this wine.
Overall, this wine is very different from classic reds and will be a good purchase for those who like to explore and experiment with their wine flavors.
This Italian classic is prepared entirely with the indigenous Nebbiolo grapes and comes out loaded with all its scrumptious characteristics. Nebbiolo is found in the hotter regions of Italy and is very bold and long-lasting. Strong wines require some air-time, and this one needs it too. To make this wine taste absolute best, let it breathe for at least an hour or two before consuming.
Upon sipping some of it, your mouth will be hit with some very fruity and very acidic flavors. It has a higher amount of tannins along with a great depth. It comes with an alcohol content of 15.7% and sits very dry on the tongue.
Its full body can also make it harder to gulp this drink down for some people. In fact, it is one of the most complex Italian red wines. To make it approachable on the dinner table, pair it with any type of meat. It will add a rush of flavor to the tongue with the food. This is an excellent wine to collect and ages for about 10 years. 2008 and 2015 vintages of this wine are very popular.
It is produced by the Nino Negri winery located in Lombardia, which is a part of the well-known Gruppo Italiano. It is carefully produced and doesn’t compromise on quality. Our final verdict is that this wine is a complex masterpiece, and it may not suit everybody’s tastes. However, for its reasonable price and authentic Italian flavor, it is worth giving a try.
The winemaking process contributes majorly to the final taste of the wine produced. In the making of this Amarone della Valpolicella, Corvina grapes are air-dried until they shrivel into raisins. They are then combined with Rondinella and Marinara grapes. This wine is produced in Italy’s southern regions, has a dry taste, and is rich in alcohol content, due to its complicated production process.
Because of the drying technique of this wine, a single bottle requires double the amount of grapes. This results in a concentrated, bold, and tasteful red wine. You will find notes of cherry, dates, licorice, cinnamon, and many dried fruits in it. Though it leaves a dry after-taste, it flows smoothly on the tongue.
It is extreme-bodied and has high acidic levels. Its extremely strong flavor makes it a good pair with heavy food items like beef, deer, and even blue cheese. It is also extremely affordable for a potent red wine. You can keep this for years as a collectible artifact. It will enhance its taste over the years to become even more flavorful and bold.
This stunning sparkling wine comes in a luxe black bottle. It is a classic Italian Chardonnay with a smooth texture and a strong, crisp finish. It has flavors of toast, almonds, pear, and apricot. Along with such rich flavors, it also has some citric notes.
It is produced by the Ca’ del Bosco winery in Lombardia – a city in northern Italy, also known for its Pinot Nero and fashion. It is not a typical Cuvee and has more aroma and a fuller body to it. It comes with a limited alcohol content of 12.5%.
The taste and aroma of this wine will not leave you awe-struck but will satisfy the tongue. It is nothing extravagant but is fine for making a toast during celebrations. It is a bottle of wine that you can get at a reasonable price.
This premium Valpolicella’s 2008 vintage was the winner of Vivino’s 2020 Wine Style Awards. It has a stable taste – neither too bold nor too acidic. It flows smoothly on the tongue and is ideal for those not used to the taste of heavy red wine. Moreover, you can get it at a price that will not dent your wallet.
It is not typical for a Valpolicella Superiore to have a light body, but this one does. You will find notes of chocolate, tobacco, oak, raspberry, and cherry on the nose of this bottle. Swirling the wine will bring deeper aromas and underlying notes such as dark leather and plums. It is ideal for pairing with food items like beef, poultry, veal, and pasta. It will truly enhance the taste of your whole meal. This wine has a vibrant red color and is the best Italian red wine to put on the dinner table.
This is another wine made out of pure Italian Nebbiolo grapes. It is robust, rich in tannins, and very acidic. Its full body carries the delicious notes of red flowers and ends in a long, earthy finish. Not everyone will appreciate the robustness of this wine. Hence, it should be paired with seasoned food like pasta, steak, or meat on the table. It will not go well with seafood or leafy veggies and will completely take over their taste.
The Italian Barolo has a rich history and has come to be known as “The King of Wines” as well as “The Wine of Kings”. It was preferred by the gentry once upon a time and is one of the country’s most expensive and finest wines.
The alcohol content in this intense red wine is 14%. On the nose, it smells of leather, earth, plum, cigar, and oak. On the tongue, it feels acidic, dry yet smooth, and fresh. It has a glossy, deep, and perfect red color.
It is undoubtedly one of the best Italian wines that you can get for the price and quality. It will not disappoint if you have a taste for strong, rich red wine.
When we talk about the finest Italian Brunello, this Casanova di Neri Tenuta is one of the top names. It is made from well-aged, authentic Sangiovese grapes, and its full body resonates with layers of exotic flavors and aromas. This bold wine is highly acidic and is best enjoyed after decanting. It is not very high on tannins and has a smooth, velvety texture.
It comes with a variety of flavors, including oak, leather, plum, blackberry, and more. To balance the bold taste of this wine, pair it with protein-laden food items such as meat, poultry, or cheese.
The best vintage for this wine is its 1994 vintage. This wine is pretty strong, with an alcohol content of over 14%. Like all other Brunello, this one also ages well and is good for collecting. This Brunello is also not very cheap but is worth buying for its exquisite taste and texture.
This is one of the few red wines that are bold, full of flavors, and yet subtle when it comes to tannins. This wine offers everything from flavor to affordability. It is one of the best Italian wines that you can get for the price.
Despite being a strong drink, this wine has a smooth texture and doesn’t leave your mouth dry. It is easy to drink because it is not very acidic. However, it is still powerful and leaves a velvety feeling behind.
The 2008 vintage of this delicious wine was featured in Vivino’s 2020 Wine Style Awards. The 1993 vintage for this wine is also very popular and flavorful. This is a typical Valpolicella with bold flavors, fragrant aroma, and luxurious texture. If you want to enjoy the overpowering flavors of red wine while still being able to drink it, you should get this one. It is very well balanced, very smooth, and very bold, all at the same time. You will get it at an affordable price too. In short, there is nothing about this red wine that disappoints the tongue or the nose. It is fragrant, deep red, and flavorful.
Traditional Italian Bolgheri is made using a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and other grapes. This is a super Tuscan strong Bolgheri Superiore that is made using the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. It combines the international varieties of both the mentioned Cabernet grapes with the local Sangiovese. The result is a delicious, concentrated, bold wine that comes with a 14% alcohol content.
It is one of Italy’s well-known super Tuscans. It is medium-bodied and has a medium-high acidity level. In other words, it is very well balanced. It goes well with beef, lamb, pasta, and veal. The wine requires a minimum of 24 months to age properly and acquires the flavors of pepper, plum, licorice, oak, and tobacco over time.
It is moderately bold and tannic and is super dry. It can be hard for some people to adjust to the taste of this wine, but since it is one of the best Italian wines, it is worth trying.
This Tuscan red is the perfect balance between smooth and tannic. It is made by blending the internationally procured Cabernet Franc with the indigenous Sangiovese grape variety. It is full of flavor, mild on the tongue, but also quite dry.
You will find notes of oak, tobacco, chocolate, black currant, leather, and earthy tones in it. It is medium-bodied, intense, and balanced. This wine has no special or distinguishable feature for such an expensive red wine.
This wine is complemented with meat, beef, poultry, lamb, or veal. If you are on the lookout for one of the best international variants, this is not one that you should buy. You can definitely get better reds at a much lower price.
This exotic red wine is from the Brunello di Montalcino region in Italy. It is made from 100% indigenous Sangiovese grapes. The bottle opens with a wonderful aroma, powered with the notes of oak, plum, blackberry, and tobacco. It is a full-bodied, concentrated wine that is also high in acidity.
The bold flavor of this wine comes from the aged, concentrated mix of the most popular variety of grapes in Italy. With an alcohol content of over 15%, this wine can leave you tipsy if you consume it on its own.
It can be paired with meat or salted cheese. It is compelling but will not overpower the taste of the food. Its texture feels smooth and light, and this is what makes it an elegant drink.
Another full-bodied Brunello, this iconic wine is priced reasonably and is one of Italy’s classic red wines. If you like to collect wine, this will be a great pick because it ages really well. It has an alcohol content of over 14% and is quite strong.
This is a well-rated wine produced by the Tassi winery in Tuscany, where some of Central Italy’s masterpieces are created. Unfortunately, this wine doesn’t come in the category of such brilliant wines. However, this pure Sangiovese comes with fruity notes on the nose and a layer of aromas that will refresh you after a long day.
You will smell and taste plum, oak, and cherry in this premium red wine. It is highly acidic, but the smooth tannins balance its taste and texture. For a Brunello, it is not bold at all. So, if you are looking for a Brunello with all its traditional characteristics, you should avoid buying this wine.
On the other hand, if you want to grab a milder variant of Brunello, this will be an excellent choice as it comes at a budget-friendly price.
This fragrant red wine carries the aroma of oak, cherry, dark chocolate, nutmeg, and cigar box. It is mild in tannins and gives a very long finish. It is quite bold, acidic, and also very dry. It goes well with meat, lamb, and poultry.
It seems mild at first but when left to develop for a couple of hours, its taste turns bold and leathery. It can be hard to drink this wine because of its bold and dry taste. Its quality is also not very good. Those who are not used to the taste of bold red wines will find this Brunello di Montalcino disappointing.
If you are strictly looking for a cheap Italian wine because of budget constraints, you can pick it.
The Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona winery is well-known for the quality of Brunello it produces. This robust wine has a deep red color and is very aromatic. Its 14.5% alcohol content makes this drink extremely potent, and it should, therefore, be served alongside a heavy meal.
However, this wine is very well-balanced. It has the right amount of tannins and boldness. It is just not sweet at all and is very acidic and dry. In 2012, this wine was in the top 1% best wines in the world. Some popular vintages for this red wine are from the years 2004 and 2010.
This wine carries the notes of jam, caramel, oak, cherry, and earthy notes. It also leaves a slightly bitter lasting taste on the tongue. This is the best Italian red wine when it comes to balanced notes. Any wine lover will be missing out if they don’t try this masterpiece.
A 1990’s classic, this vintage red wine has all the strong notes and flavors you can ever imagine. To name a few, there’s chocolate, oak tobacco, raisins, prune, leather, earthy, and other notes in this wine. It is a delicious Amarone, still lively after all the years of aging.
Some food items that go well with this masterpiece are beef, lamb, other meat, and blue cheese. This wine will certainly add flavor to even the most flavorless meals. The wine has an amazing body and almost no after taste. It flows smoothly on the tongue for a bold wine.
It has a strong and lingering aroma, as well. The taste of this wine is bold, but it has mild tannins and an overall balanced taste. However, since this wine is a classic 1990’s vintage, all this goodness comes at a hefty price. Anybody keen on picking the absolute best vintages should buy this wine.
Factors To Consider Before Buying The Best Italian Wine
Having a flavor preference will really help you narrow down your choices. It is a good idea to consider what flavor you’re looking for before buying. However, figuring out what flavor you like the most in wine can be a tricky task itself. Furthermore, there are a number of varieties of Italian wines.
Figuring out all their flavors is certainly impossible. So, you can take the help of a wine connoisseur if you want to experiment and pick a wine that you have never tried before. To make it easier, you can start by breaking down what taste you enjoy the most in your drinks. It can be sweet, bitter, and so on.
Wines acquire layers of aroma from the containers they are preserved over time and also from their surroundings. These layers can be categorized into primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas. Understanding each one will help you choose your wine better.
Primary aroma refers to the organic smell of the berry, fruit, flower, and herbs used with the grapes during fermentation. We can also say that it is the fragrance of the grape.
On the other hand, wines derive their secondary aroma from the oak barrel that they are kept in for months at a time. The malic acid is converted into lactic acid in this process, and the aroma becomes softer. Secondary aromas in red wine include chocolate, smoke, coconut, vanilla, cream, cheese, butter, cloves, and more.
The tertiary aromas are acquired by the wine during the process of aging inside the bottle. The tannins present in it can get smoother and rounder over time to develop the aroma of leather, oak, mushroom, meat, or tobacco.
By knowing this basic information about aromas, and how their layers are acquired by wines, you can actually decide better while buying wines.
The next thing worth considering is the variety of grapes used in winemaking. Choosing anyone from a range of different grapes can be difficult. Italy has over 500 types of grapes from different regions. To figure out what you like and whatnot, try as many flavors and types as you can.
Going for wine tasting can help you know better about it. You can get to know a lot about different wines from different regions of the country. Apart from this, it is known that red wines from southern regions of Italy are fruitier than northern wines. If you like fruity tones in your wine, you know what to choose. Likewise, if you like your wine with more earthy tones, make sure to try wines from northern Italy.
4. Body Of The Wine
You can also choose your wine based on whether it is light-bodied, medium-bodied, or full-bodied. Wine with different bodies comes with different characteristics. Light wines are more fruity and juicy. On the other hand, medium and full-bodied wines carry tougher tones and tastes. They are also stronger and can contain a higher level of alcohol content.
Food pairing is another concern when it comes to choosing wines for a table. Strong wines with greater alcohol content are generally paired with protein-laden food. So, a Valpolicella or Bolgheri will suit better alongside meat or poultry food. Similarly, lighter wines like white wines go well with food such as pasta, cheese, etc.
Paying attention to what food item you pair your wine with is important because the food can cause the taste of the wine to enhance or overpower the taste of the whole meal. So, it is better to be careful and do some research before putting any wine with just any food item.
It is important to know that the exact same wines go by different names in different regions of Italy. Many regions in the country stick to their own local name for their locally produced wine. You should do thorough research to determine the local names of your favourite Italian wines. That way, you will not end up getting confused, and making a mistake while purchasing the wine.
Types Of Italian Wine
To buy the best Italian wine, you need to be able to distinguish between the different types of Italian wines. We have enlisted some of the most popular varieties of Italian wines below:
This is the most widely grown grape variety in all of Italy. It is known by the names of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Montefalco Rosso, Morellino di Scansano, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Each of these sub-varieties has its differences because of the different ways in which they are harvested and the climate in which they grow.
A pure Sangiovese tastes best after 3-7 years of production. The Sangiovese that grows in southern Italy has medium tannins, and those grown in northern regions have bold tannins. The former carries light notes of strawberries, flowers, and herbs, while the latter tastes bold and bitter.
The Valpolicella blend consists of a combination of the Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes. It is Veneto winery’s signature blend and carries a variety of tastes and aromas. The Valpolicella grapes are also used to make the traditional and loved Amarone wine. To produce Amarone from Valpolicella, the grapes are partially dehydrated and dried to make them more potent and bold.
The Nebbiolo is a bold variety among Italian red wines. It is not produced widely and is kind of an unexplored, underrated treasure for those who love bold reds. It is very tannic and long-lasting. This variety of wine requires at least some 7-10 years of aging and is a good option for wine collectors.
It is also known by names like Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Valtellina, Gattinara, and the rare Sforzato. Typically, the Nebbiolo is very bold and high in tannins, but in the southern regions, its flavor and aroma can be soft and delicate.
Chardonnay is one of the most popular and most loved wines in Italy and around the world. It is a delicious drink with a rich texture and mild to moderate tannins.` The Chardonnay produced in Italy is more crisp and light as compared to the same variety produced in other parts of the world. A contributing factor to this difference in taste is Italy’s climate.
Although Chardonnay is light, it does not carry fruity flavors. It also doesn’t carry the notes of oak because it doesn’t age well in oak barrels. So, Chardonnays are aged in bottles and acquire a distinct taste that no other wine has. In all, it is a complex wine that is different from other Italian wines in many aspects.
5. Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is popularly known as just Sauvignon. It grows in northeastern Italy and is pretty intense in flavor. This is a herbal wine that is often mixed with other variants like Chardonnay to produce wines with a balanced body, and flavor.
On its own, it carries a strong earthy taste mixed with flowers and herbs, of course. When mixed with other varieties of grapes, it also acquires their characteristics. This wine is being cultivated in other parts of Italy to produce different varieties.
There are a lot of other Italian varieties of wines that are not so good in taste, like Trebbiano. Such wines are not popular but are produced locally because of tradition. Some of these wines that are not heard of often come at a low price. It may not be Good, but if you want to try the truly local Italian variants, you can explore and try them. You never know if it may suit your tastes, after all.
So, that was all about some of the best Italian wines that are most in-demand. Finding the perfect wine is a try-and-test process, and there is no fool-proof way of getting the wine you will absolutely love.
The idea is to know your own expectations from the drink, research and explore what the drinks have to offer, and then take a chance. The best way to get to know about different varieties of wines without spending a lot of money on them is by attending wine tasting sessions.
We hope that whatever this guide has to offer will help you in your own journey of finding your next favorite Italian wine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What Is The Best Italian Red Wine?
Italian wines are known for their complex flavors and rich textures. One of Italy’s best-regarded red wines is Brunello. It is produced around the region of southern Tuscany with Sangiovese grapes.
Q2. What Is The King Of Italian Wines?
The Brunello wine is popularly known as the “King of Wines” and the “Wine of Kings”. In earlier times, this wine was consumed by the gentry and hence came to be known as the wine for kings. It is made using Italy’s finest variety of indigenous grapes, the Sangiovese.
Q3. Why Is Italian Wine The Best?
There are many reasons why Italian wine is considered the best. The most important one is that the country’s climate is perfect for viticulture. Italy is home to a lot of wide varieties of grapes. These indigenous varieties are sometimes combined with other international varieties of grapes to create some masterpieces.
Q4. What Is The Healthiest Wine To Drink?
Among all, red wine is healthy to drink, and it is a proven fact that it is good for the heart if consumed moderately. And in all red wine, Pinot Noir is the healthiest because it has fewer calories and less sugar.