The Essential Guide to Italian Grape Varieties

By: Genevieve Mc Carthy / Last updated: March 21, 2024


Abbuoto: a grape mainly cultivated in the Lazio region of central Italy.
Abrusco: An ancient grape from Tuscany and is used in the wines of Chianti D.O.C.G.
Acitana: an Italian wine grape variety mainly found in northeast Sicily
Aglianico: used to make quality full-bodied red wines in Campania (best commune being Taurasi) and up and coming to Basilicata. Of Greek origin, it was known as “Vitis Hellenica.”.
Aleatico: strong Mediterranean red varietal grown on the island of Elba and also in Puglia and Lazio
Barbera: makes both elegant and juicy wines in Piedmont.
Bonarda: The classic Lombard grape is grown in the Oltrepò Pavese and Colli Piacentini DOCs.
Bovale: Sardinian red grape of Spanish origin
Cannonau: grown on the gorgeous island of Sardegna, also called Alicante. Said to have been imported from Spain in the 13th century
Cesanese: grown in the Lazio region, it is often used to make semi-sparkling red
Corvina: one of the key grapes used for producing Amarone, also used for wines like Valpolicella, Bardolino, and Recioto Classico. read more
Dolcetto: originated in Piedmont and has become a huge commercial success
Frappato: the main grape used to make the famed Sicilian Cerasuolo – read more
Freisa: light red from Piedmont used to make semi-sparkling wines
Fumin: grown in the Aosta Valley
Gaglioppo: Greek varietal imported in ancient times to Calabria; Cirò is the most famous brand to use this grape.
Grignolino: light-colored red wine is made from this grape in Piedmont, mainly around Monferrato and Asti
Lambrusco: a historical grape in Italy from Emilia Romagna became notorious for its sweet sparkling red wines. read more
Malvasia Nera: Black Malvasia, used in many wines from Puglia
Molinara: one of the three grapes used for Amarone production (the others being Rondinella and Corvina)
Montepulciano d´Abruzzo: an up-and-coming grape used to make some excellent wines in the Marche and Abruzzi regions, also in Molise and Puglia
Nebbiolo: the Piemontese grape used to make Barolo and Barbaresco, also called Chiavennasca in Valtellina, to produce Sforzato and Spanna
Negrara: Veneto grape from the Negrar district of Valpolicella, characteristic
Negroamaro: means “Black bitter”; this intense black grape is king in Puglia,
Nero d’Avola: also called “Calabrese, this is considered to be the finest red grape in Sicily and makes powerful wines
Ormeasco: the term used for the Dolcetto grape in Liguria
Piedirosso: found in Campania, probably of Greek origin as many Campania grapes. It means “red feet” and is the main grape in some of Mustilli´s best wines.
Primitivo: cousin to California’s zinfandel and originating in Croatia, this popular red grape is used in Puglia, particularly in the Salice Salentino and Primitivo di Manduria wines. Read more
Prugnolo Gentile: name of the Sangiovese Grosso clone used to make the famed Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Raboso: grown in the Padua province, especially for the wines from Colli Euganei
Refosco: main red grape from Friuli, makes light reds
Rondinella: used as part of a trio of grapes in Amarone and other Valpolicella wines
Sagrantino: the main red grape of Umbria and used to make the excellent DOCG Sagrantino di Montefalco
Sangiovese: also called Morellino, this is the flagship grape of Italy used to make Chianti Classico,
Schiava/Vernatsch: northern red grape found in Trentino Alto Adige


Addoraca: is grown in the Calabria region of southern Italy and is one of the varietals blended to produce Moscato di Saracena dessert wine.
Albana: found in Emilia Romagna, making ordinary still whites and some interesting sweet passitos. read more
Albanella: the main varietal used in the wines of Colli Pesaresi DOC, in the north of the Marche
Albanello Bianco: primarily grown in Sicily, the grape is part of a blend used to create Ambrato di Comiso, a rare and expensive Marsala-style fortified wine
Arneis: fragrant white grape found in Piedmont
Bombino: found in central and southern Italy, especially in Puglia. read more
Carricante: found growing on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. read  more
Catarrato: Sicilian varietal, one of the grapes used to make marsala
Coda di Volpe: means “foxtail,” used in the Lacyrma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco wines. read more
Cortese: a grape used to make Gavi in Alessandria (Piedmont). read more
Falanghina: fabulous varietal found in Campania, very aromatic. Top Falanghina comes from the Feudi di San Gregorio winery. read more
Fiano: used to make lovely whites in and around Avellino. read more
Forastera: found on the island of Ischia
Garganega: a grape used to make Soave and Gambellara wines. read more
Greco di Tufo: Greek descendant found all over the south of Italy. read more
Grillo: Originating in Western Sicily, the main varietal used for Marsala. read more
Inzolia: common white grape found in Sicily. read more
Muscat: aromatic grapey grape found throughout Italy
Pigato: unusual varietal found in Liguria
Pinot Grigio: a commercial success story, this is Pinot Gris. read more
Pinot Bianco: found all over the north, especially in Lombardia, Veneto, Friuli, and Alto Adige. read more
Prosecco: the grape used to make the Venetian bubbly with the same namesake, a key ingredient to the famed Bellini cocktail
Tocai Friulano: grape with confusing terminology as it is unrelated to Hungarian Tokay. It makes nice whites in Veneto, Friuli, and Lombardia
Trebbiano, known as ugni blanc in France, is a variety grown all over the country. read more
Verdicchio: An interesting white used in the Marche, one of Italy´s hottest up-and-coming wine regions. read more
Vermentino: the most famous white grape from Sardegna, believed to be of Spanish origin. read more
Vernaccia: a white grape used in a DOCG in San Gimignano, Tuscany. read more
Zibibbo: the main grape used to make the delicious sweet Passito di Pantelleria



Avatar photo

Genevieve Mc Carthy

Further Reading: Discover More Related Blog Content

The Top Icon Wines of Chile

Explore Chile's top wines and stunning landscapes, from the Andes to luxury hotels and vineyards, highlighting diverse, high-quality, terroir-focused wines.

Amarone’s ascent

Explore Amarone della Valpolicella's history and winemaking in our guide. Discover the passion behind Italy's iconic red wine. Click to learn more.

More information

If you would like us to customize an exclusive luxury tour, contact us and let us know your travel plans. We offer luxury food and wine tours for private groups of a mininium two guests. In addition, all of our private, chauffeured tours are available year-round upon request.

Cellar Tours Private Luxury Food & Wine Tours

Cellar Tours

Welcome to Cellar Tours, the premier Luxury Travel Specialist since 2003. Our goal is to provide you with the ultimate food and wine vacation experience, with exclusive Mercedes chauffeured tours that showcase the best of local cuisine and wines.

Our team specializes in crafting bespoke, custom-designed vacations, events, and incentives tailored to your unique tastes and preferences. Travel is not just about seeing new places - it's about creating unforgettable memories and indulging in the finer things in life.

As members of Slow Food, OTAVA (Travel Agency Association in Spain), and the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals), we promote sustainable tourism and support local communities. We work closely with top-rated hotels, restaurants, and wineries to provide you with the highest level of service and attention to detail.

Whether you're planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a corporate retreat, let Cellar Tours be your guide. With our passion for food and wine, extensive knowledge of local culture, and dedication to exceptional customer service, we're confident we can exceed your expectations.

Contact us today to start planning your dream vacation – we can't wait to hear from you!

Recommended by