The Twenty wine growing regions of Italy are:
Abruzzo - Located east of Rome on the Adriatic Sea, this region's reds are dominated by Montepulciano and Sangiovese, while the whites include Trebbiano, Bombino, Bianco, Malvasia and Pinot Grigio.
Basilicata - A very small region in southern Italy that seems best known for it Aglianico, but Primitivo, Sangiovese and Montepulciano also do well.
Calabria - On the southern peninsula of Italy, this region uses Gaglioppo and Greco Nero grapes for its reds, and makes their whites predominantly from Greco Bianco, Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca.
Campania - The primary whites are Asprinio, Fiano, Greco and Falanghina. Reds include Aglianico and Piedirosso.
Emilia-Romagna - Located in northern Italy, this is one of the country's most prolific wine regions. Producing both whites and reds, the dominant varieties are Malvasia and Lambrusco, Trebbiano, Barbera, Bonarda and Sangiovese.
Friuli-Venezia-Giulia - Bordering Austria, this region produces Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Riesling, Chardonnay and Tocai Friulano (a local varietal).
Lazio - Located in central Italy, this region is home to the ancient capital city of Rome. The region’s reputation is mainly based on its white wines, Trebbiano and Malvasia di Candia. Red wines are made from Sangiovese, Casanese, Montepulciano, Merlot and Nero di Coro.
Liguria - A small coastal region running along Italy's Mediterranean coast between the French border and Tuscany. Known as the Italian Riviera, this region is known for its wines made from the local white grape Pigato. Another notable white is Vermentino. The reds include Rossese, Sangiovese and Ciliegiolo.
Lombardy - Located at the heart of northern Italy, this is one of Italy's largest and most populous regions. It has two wine styles of particular note: red Valtellina and sparkling Franciacorta.
Le Marche - Bordering the Adriatic Sea, this region's reds include Montepulciano and Sangiovese, while the main white varieties include Malvasia, Trebbiano and Verdicchio.
Molise - One of the nation's smallest wine regions. The white blends comprise mainly Trebbiano Toscano with smaller portions of Bombino, while the reds use Montepulciano combined with a little Aglianico and some Trebbiano Toscano.
Piedmont (peh-ah-MON-tey) - Located in northwest Italy, and bordering Switzerland and France, this 6th highest production region of Italy is famous for its reds made from Nebbiolo (called a Barolo), Barbera and Dolcetto. While there are 59 regions in Piedmont, the major sub-regions include Asti, Monferrato, Barbera d'Asti, Barbaresco, Barolo, Gabiano, Gavi, Langhe, Roero and Dolcetto di Dogliani.
Puglia - Located in the far south-eastern corner of the 'boot' of Italy, the sourthern regions of Puglia produce wines that are made from grape varieties unique to the area. Puglian grapes are Negroamaro (at least 80%) and Malvasia Nera (up to 20%), while Verdeca is the basically the only white. Primitivo is also found along with Negroamaro, a more widespread red in the majority of southern Puglia.
Sardegna - An island off the west coast of Italy, this region's red include Cannonau (Grenache), Carignano (Carignan), Cabernet Sauvignon and Bobal. But, the whites seem to prevail with Torbato, Semidano, and Nuragus.
Sicily - The largest island in the Mediterranean, this region has been famous for sweet Muscats, and fortified Marsala. But, the island wines now include regional red varietals such as Nero d'Avila, Frappato, and Perricone and white varietals such as Catarratto, Grillo, Grecanico, Inzolia. Other popular grapes grown include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Trentino-Alto Adige - The most northern region of Italy is most renowned for Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco and Gewurztraminer. Also produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir.
Tuscany - Sangiovese is dominate in this region that is located in central Italy. Notable for the Brunello di Montalcino which is 100% Sangiovese.
Bolgheri - A small region on the western side of Tuscany. The Bolgheri Rosso and Bolgheri Superiore wines are labeled without the mention of grapes. But, the 'Super Tuscan' Superiore includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Bolgheri Rosso is produced with Syrah and the traditional Tuscan Sangiovese. Either can comprise up to 50% of the wine, as can a maximum 30% of Petit Verdot. Rosso must be aged for at least ten months, while the superiore must mature for 24 months before release.
Brunette di Montalcino - All Brunelli di Montalcino wine is made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes.
Carmignano - Wines of this region are dry reds based on the Tuscan blend of Sangiovese (at least 50%), Canaille Nero (up to 20%), Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (10–20% each).
Chianti - Famous sub-region of Tuscany. Local laws require wines to have a minimum of 70% Sangiovese (and 80% for the more prestigious Chianti Classico DOCG). The native varieties Canaiolo and Colorino are also permitted, as are the classics Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to a limited degree.
Chianti Classico - The most highly regarded wines come from this zone. It became a separate DOCG in 1996. Laws require wines to have a minimum of 80% Sangiovese. Bottles of Chianti Classico are marked with the DOCG's black cockerel logo.
Chianti Rufina - Chianti Rufina is held in great esteem. This fragrant red is highly regarded for its exceptional character: it is fruity, elegant, well structured and worthy of aging. Like all Chianti, it must comprise at least 70% Sangiovese, with the remainder made up of Canaille, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Maremma - The focus here is on both dry and sweet wines. These are produced from a wide array of grapes, including the local, traditional varieties and the more well known international varieties.
Umbria - The most popular white grapes in this region are Trebbiano, Grechetto and Malvasia while the reds include Sangiovese, Cilegiolo Canaiolo and Sagrantino.
Valle D'Aosta - Italy's smallest and least populous region, a wide range of both red and white wines are made here from a selection of both native and introduced grape varieties, the most important of which is Picotendro, the local form of Nebbiolo.
Veneto - In the north-eastern corner of Italy, this region produces wines such as Valpolicella, Amarone, Soave and Prosecco.
Valpolicella - Just North of Verona, this region has three zones:
- Classico - There are six designations with this zone: Negrar, Marano, Fumane, San Pietro in Cariano, Sant' Ambrogio and Dolce.
- Valpantena - Located to the East of the Classico zone, this zone makes higher quality wines
- Est - Literally meaning 'East' this zone is the newest and is located next to the Soave wine region
Common Italian Wines
Amarone Della Valpolicella - Grapes include Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella. Here the grapes undergo a drying process, known as appassimento, for 3 to 4 months. Drying causes the grape's sugar concentration to increase and the acidity to decrease. The wine is dry with high alcohol levels (15-16.5%). Flavors include dried fruit, chocolate and spices with round tannins.
Barbaresco - Made entirely with the Nebbiolo grape, this wine is quite similar to its 'big brother' Barolo in its complexity and fragrance. But a Barbaresco tends to have lighter tannnins and a bit more refined structure. It must have greater than 12.5 percent alcohol and be aged 2 years, with one year in oak or chestnut casks
Barolo (bah-roh’-loh) - Known as "The King of Wines and the Wine of Kings," this wine is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes in the Piedmont region. Barolo is a full-bodied red wine high acidity and strong tannin that makes it a good candidate for aging. It must have greater than 12.5 percent alcohol, be aged a minimum of 3 years, with two of those years in oak or chestnut casks
Bolgheri - These wines are made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
Brunello de Montalcino - This wine is made entirely from Sangiovese and has a firm, tannic structure. This wine is released five years after the harvest year; Riserva is released after six years. In either case, the wine must spend two years aging in wood.
Brachetto (bra-keh’-toe) - Primarily from the Piedmont region of Italy near Alessandria and Asti. This grape is used to make brachetto d'Acfqui which is a deep red sparkling wine.
Chianti (k’yahn-tee) - Produced with >70% Sangiovese along with Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Chianti is a small region within Tuscany, but a wine calling itself “Chianti” is allowed to be made almost anywhere in Tuscany. Because of this, Chianti has 8 sub-zones.
Colli Senesi: Aged for 6 months.
Colline Pisane: Aged for 6 months.
Colli Aretini: Aged for 6 months.
Montalbano: Aged for 6 months.
Montespertoli: Aged for 9 months (min.)
Classico: Aged for a year (min.)
Rùfina: Aged for a year (min.)
Colli Fiorentini: Aged for a year (min.)
Dolcetto (dohl-chet’-oh) - Literally translates to "little sweet," this grape produces a fruity, low-acid wine.
Gavi (gah’-vee) - Made from the Cortese grape, this is a dry, crisp white wine with citrus and mineral notes.
Lambrusco (lam-broos’-coh) - Made from the grape variety Lambrusco, this wine is widely known as a sweet fizzy wine. Yet, better Lambrusco wines are not sweet. They are dry and just slightly fizzy (called frizzante) from being fermented in pressurized tanks.
Marsala (mar-sah’-lah) - This is most often known as a cheap cooking wine. But, this wine is named for the ancient port city of Marsala, can be first-rate when made by first-rate producers. This fortified wine is made primarily from Grillo, Catarratto bianco and Inzolia grapes, but may include small amounts of Perricone, Nero d'Avola and Nello Mascalese.
Moscato d’Asti (moss-cah’-to dah’ss-tee)
Prosecco (pro-seh-coh) - Sparkling wine made in the Veneto region from the Prosecco grape (also known as Glera)
Rosso di Montalcino (ross-oh dee mon-tahl-t’chee’-noh)
Soave (Swah-vah) - Made from Gargenega grapes in the village of Soave in Northern Italy. Flavors include citrus zest, melon peach, marjoram and saline solution, with an oily richness.
Super Tuscans - Created to break out of the traditional grape requirements, these wines will include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc.
Taurasi - This wine is made with at least 85% of the indigenous Aglianico grape, but many of the top producers use 100% This wine in naturally high in acidity and tannins.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano (vair-nah’-t’chah dee san-d’jee-mee-n’yah’-noh)
Vin Santo (veen sahn’-toe)
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (veen-no noh’-bee-leh dee mon-teh-pool-t’cha’-noh)