The Essential Guide to Italian Grape Varieties

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

ITALIAN RED GRAPES

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

ITALIAN WHITE GRAPES

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

 

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Genevieve Mc Carthy

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