Italian wines – at turns flinty and restrained or lush and fruit-forward – are commonly regarded as some of the world’s best. So why not, on your next Italian holiday, fit some vineyard touring into the agenda? Below is a guide to some of Italy’s top wine-producing regions. With a glass in hand and a plate of Italian food in front of you, you’ll be feeling pretty close to paradise.
Most travellers will be familiar with Tuscany as one of Italy’s foremost wine regions, and while it attracts many visitors, its stellar wines make trips worthwhile. Famous primarily for red varieties like Chianti, Tuscany’s Sangiovese grape can also be found in the region’s Brunellos, Montepulcianos, and modern “Super Tuscan” blends.
No list of Italy’s top wine regions would be complete without Piedmont. The region is known for its big, bodacious reds – like Barolo and Barbaresco, which use the Nebbiolo grape – as well as a number of dry whites and Moscato.
Skip Venice and head to the humid flatlands of the Po Valley towards Verona, and you’ll be sure to discover some truly stellar wineries. Amarone, Prosecco, Soave, and Valpolicella all call this particular patch of land home.
Sicily, land of high temperatures and volcanic soils, produces wine in abundance. In past years the region was saddled with an unfavourable reputation, known for forgettable table wines, but these days it’s one of Italy’s most exciting and up-and-coming wine producers. Skip the Marsala and hunt out whites made from Mount Etna’s Carricante grape or reds made from the Frappato and Nero d’Avola grapes.
Adjacent to Tuscany, Umbria is slightly further off the tourist trail but still showcases remarkable wines produced within stunning settings. Best known for the white Orvieto wine, produced in the scenic town of the same name, the region is also reputed for its red Torgiano varietal.
Encompassing Bologna, Ravenna, and the Adriatic Coast, Emilia-Romagna is a stunningly beautiful part of the country, and is also home to some of Italy’s best products: prosciutto di Parma, Parmigianino Reggiano, and balsamic vinegar di Modena. As an added bonus, it also produces serious wines. Aim for higher-end Lambrusco secco (the red sparkler goes brilliantly with food), as well as the more obscure Aleatico grape.
Home of the Italian capital, the Lazio region produces crisp, mineral-forward white wines thanks to its volcanic soil. The Trebbiano and Malvasia di Candia grapes are common, and some of the region’s most famous wines are Castelli Romani, Frascati, and the quirkily named Est! Est! Est!.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose Rome guide covers all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas in the city.
(Featured image: Red wine © Markus Mainka, 2013. Used under license from Shutterstock.com)