Known for exquisite food, mouthwatering wine, and mastery of the art of dolce far niente, Italy brings so much to the table. With 20 wine regions, upwards of 350 types of wine grapes grown, more than 700,000 hectares under vine, and home to nearly 20% of the world’s annual wine production, Italian wine can take a lifetime to fully master.
Fear not! We’ve made it simple. We’ve broken down the country into its six of its best-known wine regions and the signature grapes of each and thrown in a recommended affordable bottle for each that represents its respective region well to make getting acquainted with Italian wine as easy and delicious as possible.
When done right, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can create some of the most satisfyingly affordable wines on the market. Notes of cherries, dark berries, and wet rocks ooze from the easy-drinking Italian sipper Cirelli.
Dry and fruit-forward, G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo shows flavors of sour cherries, raspberry, anise, and sweet spice—lifted, aromatic, and delicious.
Sicily might just be Italy’s most dynamic wine region. For a long time, the island was known for its large output of sweet fortified wines (marsala), though the region’s winemaking scene goes much deeper than that. Sicily’s many coastal wine regions produce a ton of saline-driven whites from a slew of indigenous varieties (Grillo, barricade, and inzolia are just a few) that are perfect for quenching your thirst on warm weather days. Red wine lovers fear not: This vivacious island most definitely has something for you. From lighter-bodied frappato-based “porch pounders” too earthy Nero d’avolas to ash-driven volcanic Etna Rosso blends, this diverse Italian region truly has something for every palate preference out there.
Etna Rosso can provide some of the most textured and smoke-driven palates out there, and Benanti’s bottling is no exception. Ashy soil-driven notes of sour cherry, smoke and flint mark this mineral-laden wine.
Alois Lageder Pinot grigio is medium-bodied and flavor-packed, marked by flavors of yellow stone fruit, white peach, and wet rocks. This isn’t your average happy hour bottle.
Isole e Olena Chianti Classico is hands-down one of the best chianti classics on the market. Flavors of juicy red fruit, tomato leaf, and fresh-cut herbs dominate the wine’s harmonious and well-integrated palate.
Rich, velvety, and loaded with lush red fruit, plum and tobacco flavors, Pra Morandina’s ripe and robust Valpolicella is balanced by bright acidity and well-integrated tannins.
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