The best way to make sense of Italian red wines is to simply start tasting them. Italy offers the perfect red wine for every occasion—from pizza on Monday, to roast beef with the in-laws on Sunday, and everything between.
Many of Italy’s best red wines are labeled with the name of the wine appellation, often in combination with the grape variety. If you’ve ever felt completely overwhelmed while browsing an Italian wine section, knowing just a few key wine names will help keep your shopping trip focused and ensure that you have the perfect wine to drink at a moment’s notice.
Are you looking for the best Italian red grapes? The wonderful thing about Italian red grape varieties is that they are distinctly Italian. Plenty of winegrowers around the world have made attempts at growing Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera, but few have come even close to matching the results of these grapes’ native soils. As a rule, Italian grape varieties don’t care to leave Italy, and who could blame them? Completely at home in their places of origin or tradition, each Italian red grape has evolved and adapted in perfect harmony with their surroundings.
Glera is the principal grape of Prosecco sparkling wine. Originally the grape was known as Prosecco (more precisely Prosecco Tondo). The variety has an unclear origin and an even more complicated ampelographic history due to the fact that several distinct varieties have been called “Prosecco-something” in northeast Italy since the 18th century. The grape is late-ripening and prone to both fungal diseases and water stress. It is widely planted in the province of Treviso.
The grape varieties of Veneto
Veneto’s grape varieties are almost equally divided between white and red. More than 60% of the cultivated varieties are native or Italian grapes. Among them, the indigenous Glera, Garganega and Corvina Veronese account for almost half of Veneto’s total plantings.
Today, Veneto represents Italy’s most productive wine region and accounts for 25% of Italy’s total DOC/G wine production.
Collio (or Collio Goriziano)
DOC Collio’s vineyards date back to pre-Roman times; they were of renown then and are held in high esteem now. Their impressive whites are considered the finest in Friuli and are among the finest in Italy.
Friuli Grave DOC
Friuli Grave was previously called Grave del Friuli but is often simply referred to as Grave. This is the largest DOC, both in terms of area under vine and in production. It accounts for more than one-third of Friuli’s total wine production.
The Super-Whites of Friuli
In the late 1970s, the producer, Jermann, created Vintage Tunina, a complex blend of native and international white grapes that became iconic among Friuli’s superior white blends. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Jermann inspired several other Friuli producers, particularly in the DOCs of Collio and Friuli Colli Orientali.