Italy

For Italians, wine is a link between generations.

Italy is so complex. The home of Chianti, Italy has a deep cultural history and a big part of that is wine. The wine was probably brought to Italy by the Greeks and this beautiful region is known as one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world with amazing dry red wines. It is considered as the largest wine producer in the world with a wide range of over 1000 grape varieties thanks to the varied topography and climate. Italy is blessed with a lot of natural gifts. It has a very sunny mild climate and very hilly, rocky topography and a lot of nice places for wine grapes to grow.

In the north of Italy, we can find the finer wines, a little bit more development of winemaking technique and style, while in the south we tend to find a little bit higher production more sort of table wines, more rustic, hearty kind of styles.

Italian wine regions

The two most important regions of Italy when it comes to wine are the Piedmont and Tuscany.

When it comes to Italian wines, most people first mention Tuscany or Piedmont, and perhaps the Veneto region, which gives prosecco. Yet, in addition to the famous northern wine regions, the Southerners also demand attention: Calabria, Campania, Puglia, Sicily – a region of raging volcanoes and dramatic sea cliffs with the lush richness of the gardens of Eden, with the unending joy of life.

Piedmont is located in the northwest of Italy, in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. Tuscany is at its center. Beyond these, there is the Veneto, the Friuli region, and Alto Adige. These are all in the north. In the south, we find Campania and Sicily as the two most known wine region in southern Italy.

Sicily

Sicily takes pride in a 2,500-year-old wine-growing history. In terms of volume, it is the second most important wine region in Italy after Veneto. Although in recent decades it has come mainly from table wine. Sicilian table wine is still used in many wine regions to slightly “improve” the less successful items. However, this phenomenon is declining and Sicily is becoming more and more proud of its local varieties, which are also used to make high-quality wines.

One of the best-known varieties in Sicily is the red wine grape called “Nero d’Avola”.

Italian wine classifications

Like other EU member countries Italy ranks its wine production regions according to an appellation scheme based on three quality tiers designed to distinguish between a top tier of highly regulated quality wines (DOC or DOCG = PDO), a less regulated more experimental middle tier of wines (IGT = PGI) and a largely unregulated bottom tier design primarily for bulk wine production.

Italy is organized into 20 wine regions covering the entire country. Information about the region that a wine hails from as well as about its place on the quality hierarchy will be visible on the bottles’ label. In addition to appellation info labels may include the following designations:

  • ’classico’: grapes grown in „traditional” zone of production for this wine
  • ’superiore’: containing slightly alcohol by volume
  • ’riserva’: aged longer, premium level

This general information will be helpful with wines from all of Italy’s regions.

Photo credit: Karol Kaczorek