Whether you're buying for a date or for a dinner party, finding the right wine can be hard if you aren’t an expert on the subject. Maybe you know what you like, but want to do something a bit more fancy to impress some guests or to mark a special occasion.
From different grapes to regional varieties as well as some names you may not be familiar with, the wine market is constantly evolving and sometimes we need someone to show us the way to make the best choice. The last thing you want to do is waste a load of money on a fancy bottle to find out it tastes like diesel.
Italian wine is always a good way to go: Italian wine is easily available in the US, Italian wine has many classics you may already know like chianti etc, Italian wine also has a culture of ‘table wine’ that makes it fairly accessible to newcomers.
The concept of ‘table wine’ is that it is relatively cheap but high quality wine that is for the table, i.e. it is for sharing. Italian wines are never too bold and follow this sort of tradition of accessibility.
There are also a wide variety of Italian wines so you can likely find the right bottle for you with a little bit of research. We cut out the hard part so you can focus on the rest of your hosting duties. Read on to learn more about the 14 best Italian wines on the market.
Red wine is generally made from red grapes, which are purple or red in their physical appearance. Reds are very hearty and rich depending on the variety and are often served at room temperature, so don’t go putting these bottles in the fridge.
Reds are great with meat and cheese and compliment most rich foods. THis makes red wine good for an evening, or even in the winter for their rich and warming qualities that are often complex and nuanced.
OUR TOP PICK
This is a great Italian wine that makes use of the Sangiovese grape. This is a grape that is commonly used to make Chianti, often served in the ‘fiasco’ bottle with a wide bottom, you may recognize this variety of wine from the tables in 90s gangster films. The sangiovese grape makes this wine opulently purple and richly ruby colored.
The balsamic and cherry aromas marry perfectly the sweetness of the vanilla and coffee tasting notes. This creates a soft palate that has a fruity finish. This wine pairs well with meats and hard cheeses, so perfect for a date if you’re making some pasta.
This is an Italian table wine so may not have a name you would recognise, but as we established it was made with the sangiovese grape, we can liken it to a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot. At 14% this is more than perfect for a during and post dinner wine.
This is another Chianti style Italian wine that is named after the renaissance man himself. At Da Vinci wines they focus on using modern wine techniques to create old-world styles like this Chianti.
As such, this is a great example of an Italian Chianti, it is well balanced and medium-bodied red that is a classic table wine style. The main notes are plums and cherries which form a lingering finish that is perfect for palate cleansing thanks to the Sangiovese grape.
Like most Italian table wines this is great with meat and pasta, the Italian staples, but would also go well at most dinner parties and cookouts.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is an Italian wine made from the Montepulciano grape from the Abruzzo region in eastern Italy.
Montepulciano D’abruzzo literally means Montepulciano of Abruzzo, which translates into ‘grape from this region’ which can help you figure out some of these pesky and confusing wine names.
Moreover, the Montepulciano grape is a variety that is similar to the Sangiovese grape except this wine has more blackberry and raspberry notes with a hint of aniseed. The smell is sort of like cherry leather which is pretty nice actually.
This is a surprisingly smooth wine with soft tannins so this is great to buy when trying to introduceskepticscs into the red wine game. Italian wines are great for this as they can range from prestigious to rustic quite quickly.
This is a lively but easy drinking red wine that has a slight sparkling quality thanks to a second fermentation of the grapes, its low ABV and drinkability makes it perfect to get beginners and skeptics into wine, especially red wine.
This bottle is made from the Lambrusco grape which is of the Emilia-romagna region of Italy. This region is also notable for Parmigiano Reggiano as well as prosciutto di Romagna.
Additionally, the Lambrusco grape is also considered to be one of the oldest, so while this wine seems modern it is actually steeped in Italian history and tradition.
Expect fruity but soft flavors that are perfect with a variety of foods. Enjoy in both winter and summer as this wine is perfect when chilled and also great at room temperature. This is one of the most popular wine brands in the US for a reason, give it a go to find out
Criterion are a winemaker who have won the Decanter world wine award for certain bottles, so this is a brand you can entrust quality with. This type of wine is called Barolo and is often referred to as ‘the king of wines’.
Barolo DOCG is one of the highest appellations in Italy (a fancy word meaning most protected by regulatory laws), which makes this a special and fine wine. The grapes provide a full-bodied red with rich fruity flavor thanks to velvety tannins that provide a great finish.
As this is a ‘fancy’ wine it goes pretty well with ‘fancy food, and thus a ‘fancy’ occasion - this wouldn’t look out of place at any dinner party and is a great one to impress your wine loving friends.
This is an organic wine which is great as it means it has no sulfites in it. On top of that this is an Italian Merlot wine made with Merlot grapes, but made in Italy with Italian wine making methods.
The great thing about having no sulphites is that it means you get no sulfite hangover, although we can’t guarantee the fear the morning after will be gone too but at 12% this is lower than most red wines.
Even without sulfites the wine remains full bodied and fruity with distinct blackberry aromas thanks to the merlot grape. The floral and still tannic palate is welcome in most hearty meals and even with salads.
If you bring an organic wine to a dinner party people will immediately want to try so make sure you pour your own glass first.
This wine is a sweet red wine from Italy that has a low ABV thanks to a secondary fermentation process. Made in Northern Italy, this wine utilizes traditional winemaking styles to create a sweet red that flavors forward rather than alcohol focus.
Letting the grapes ferment for longer with their skins on brings out their fruit flavors. The beautifully acidic and sweet fruity flavors are perfect for this violet wine.
‘Rosso dolce’ translates to sweet red, so this can be a good post-meal and is also great for a lighter table wine that pairs well with tomatoes and spicy food as well as seafood. This is another easy drinker that will encourage the wine-skeptic to pour a glass.
White wines (see also 'White Wine: Sweetness And Dryness Chart') are commonly made with ‘white’ or what we might physically recognise as ‘green grapes’ These wines are generally more acidic, lighter, and usually have lesser alcohol content.
White wine is great in the summer and served chilled, while you wouldn’t usually chill a red wine. This makes them ideal for any outside soireé.
This Pinot Grigio comes from the Delle Venezie region of Italy which endows the wine with a plethora of tropical flavors. Expect pineapple, meadow flowers, pear, sage and more on the palette from each glass of wine.
The medium bodied wine is perfectly balanced with acidity and minerality that makes the wine both complex and elegant. This wine is perfectly chilled in the summer alongside a variety of foods, this table wine is perfect with seafood and other fresh pastas.
This is sure to give the skeptic a run for their money with accessible tropical flavors that are pleasant on the tongue. At 12% it’s also got the perfect alcohol level to cut through the noise of flavor here, and balances well.
This wine is a blend of 90% Arneis grapes, and 10% Sauvignon Blanc grapes. So, while made in Italy, this wine celebrates eurocentric wine relationships.
As a result to get a really floral wine that embodies orange and elderflower flavors with hints of pear and citrus during its bright finish. This wine is perfect with creamy pastas, summer salads, and any sunny situation.
All the way from Cantrallata, Winemaker Ana Becoechea crafts this wine with their seasoned experience to form a truly well balanced wine that is inviting to novices and sommeliers alike.
This may be another grape name you don’t recognise, but if you like the French Sauvingong Blanc then this is similar but with an Italian twist.
This classic Soave is an Italian white wine from the Garganega grape from the Veneto region. Soave is a dry white from the Veneto region, post-WW2 this was one of the most popular Italian wines in the US until Pinot Grigio came along.
For its price, Inama’s Soave is extremely well balanced with a profile similar to Pinot Grigio, formed of pear citrus and other tropical notes such as grapefruit. This is a great wine to pair with seafood and if you're a vegetarian this wine is a great accompaniment with vegetable flavors and balances acidity well.
At 12% this is a good balance of heavier wines but is also relatively light but still retains enough alcohol to cut through its potential sweetness. Americans love Soave as it can taste quite a lot like Califronian grapes.
This is very light Italian white wine, made with Italian Muscat Blanc grapes, another one of the oldest grapes in the world. Moscato is famous for its sweet flavours, this particular brand has some lovely peach and pear flavors that are very bright and refreshing.
This works perfectly in between meals in order to clean the palette and with its low ABV it doesn’t make your guests get sleepy. This is perfect with a summer lunch or a summer dinner party by the marina. There's always something about Moscato that makes me feel like I'm by the sea.
Moscato is much similar to what the Portuguese make called Vinho Verde or ‘green wine’, which is similarly light and drank throughout the hot days of summer just like Moscato. Both are great ingredients for a summery but light cocktail.
Prosecco (see also our article on Prosecco and Moscato) is likely a variety of Italian wine you may have already heard of. Essentially, Prosecco is the Italian’s answer to Champagne and usually operates on a similar appellation.
Prosecco actually spans around nine provinces in line with its DOCG certification, while named after the town of Prosecco in Trieste, it doesn’t need to be made here to name it prosecco, like Champagne does in France. Generally, Prosecco is a little less bubbly than champagne and is a lighter and perhaps cheaper choice that is used among many for toasts and celebrations.
This particular Prosecco is from the Veneto region and has hints of apple and elderberry which creates a crisp and bright finish with a welcome sparkling finish.
This prosecco is perfect for celebrating an occasion with a toast. Prosecco is also a welcome ingredient in many cocktails so get experimenting to make this even more special.
This is another white wine from the Veneto region, which was featured in Vivino’s 2019 Wine Style Awards for Northern Italy Pinot Grigio. TThisis wine utilises the Pinot Gris grapes from Veneto to make a classic Pinot Grigio that utilisutilizeses traditional Italian wine making methods.
Expect the normal Pinot Grigio palette of peach, lemon, and grass nose with a medium body and acidity. This wine has a slight honey sweetness and smooth body that can be compared to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
This Pinot Grigio is a crowd pleaser and will go with any meal you prepare. Give your guests the taste of Northern Italy with this wine that is accessible even for beginners. There’s a reason why Pinot Grigio is the most imported variety of Italian wine into the United States.
This is another Pinot Grigio from the Northern region of Alto Adige that is a traditional version of the Italian classic whtie variety. At Santa Margherita they have been making Pinot Grigio for over 30 years and have become a very popular brand within the United States.
The straw colored wine is pretty aromatic and lofty as well as being relatively viscous. Thee wine starts with a hint of tobacco and quickly balances out with lemon and grapefruit for tartness as well as a citrusy finish.
This flavor palette is perfect with white fish and is a great sipper for any occasion. WIth a relatively long finish this is a great table wine during the summer and with a pretty responsible ABV this wine should be accessible to both novices and wine lovers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Italian Wine
What Is The Most Popular Wine In Italy?
If you want to seem like you know your Italian wine, this can be an important question. This answer makes you seem travelled rather than just naming the Italian wines on the grocery store shelves, having a knowledgeable answer to this question will make you seem well informed when it comes to wine.
Generally, Toscana, Barolo and Barbaresco are the most popular wines in Italy, while the most popular Italian wines in America are Barolo, Chianti, and Montalcino varieties.
What Are The Most Famous Italian Wine Regions?
Knowing your wine regions can really set you apart from the novices around the table, being able to state the grape used (which is usually related to the region) is one thing that wine experts may try to catch you out on.
In general, the most reputed wine regions in Italy are Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna.
What Is An Italian Table Wine?
Within the world of Italian wine, the Italian table wine is an important concept that can help you understand much more about Italian wine in general and can also demonstrate to guests that you know a decent amount about wine.
Table wine is both a style of making wine as well a generic classification. Table wine is regarded as something you have with a meal that is shared among others. Historically, table wine is homemade wine that has no regional certification to prove its country of origin.
For many Italiasns, table wine is more about a culture of sharing and family, adhering to Italian traditions, rather than the lofty certification for sale.
Our Final Say
Well, there you have it, 14 of the best Italian wines on the market. We hope that we have taken you on a tour across Italy and are giving you a crash course in Italian wine. With this information you can forget all about the wine rookie anxiety that comes from dinner parties.
These picks should enable you to talk about wine without fear of making a fool of yourself, and can also compete with those family members or guests who also think they know a lot about wine.
Ultimately, if you know the region and grape variety then this is all you really need, but also helps you decide which wines you like. If you are a newcomer, try to remember the grape of the wine you enjoy.
Moreover, this should demonstrate how varied and wide Italian wine reaches. While it isn’t as lofty as French wine, it has a different culture that is centered around the old traditions of ‘table wine’ and while many Italian wines are certified according to their region of origin, it is about the culture of sharing, eating, and drinking, with friends and family that permeates the Italian wine industry.
Italian wine is definitely the most favoured country of origin when it comes to American consumers, this is likely due to the influx of Italian immigrants after the Second World War.
If you are trying to get into the nitty and gritty of wine, in general, Italian wine culture can be a good place to start as it is more accessible than French wines for example, but still retains much of the traditional ways of understanding wine such as region and grape.
These tools should teach you the fundamentals so you look like the host with the most at your next dinner party or wine tasting evening.
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