Discover Italy’s wines and our top tasting tips
Italy is renowned for its incredible collection of wines and is home to a myriad of styles that are drank all over the globe.
The amazing diverse geography of the country is reflected in its wine, from the stunning coastlines that can be experienced on luxury Sicily holidays producing Marsala and the rolling hills of Tuscany harvesting Brunello, to the crisp Alpine landscapes of Alto Adige producing Pinot Grigio and the mountainous Piedmont making Barolo.
Here you can see our infographic about the best wines to try in Italy and our suggestions on the best foods to try with the different wines, the best wineries to visit, and our top wine tasting tips.
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Italy’s top drops
Foods to eat with a Barolo
- Fiona Beckett at Matching Food and Wine recommends meals including feathered game such as partridge, wild duck, pheasant, pigeon and other game birds
- Grilled fillet steak
- Braised beef
Vineyards to visit for Barolo
Taliano Michele has vineyards situated in the areas of Roero and Barbaresco and has been producing top-quality Barolo and other Italian wines since the estate was built in the 1930s.
Another great winery to try Barolo is the Paolo Manzone vineyards, which is nestled in the heart of the Piedmont landscape. The vineyards cover an area of around 14 hectares from Dolcetto d’Alba to Barolo.
Restaurant to visit for the best Barolo
One famed dish that the restaurant produces is its plate of tender veal that is braised in Barolo wine, while it is also renowned for its pasta dishes and delicious deserts.
Foods to have with Barbaresco
The Wine Enthusiast reveals that Barbaresco is very food friendly and can be eaten with a lot of traditional Piedmont cuisine; recommending the following:
- Tajarin (egg noodles) topped with butter sauce
- White truffles
- Pasta dishes topped with dense, savoury tomato sauces
- Four-cheese gnocchi
Vineyards to visit for Barbaresco
The Ca del Baio winery has, like most other vineyards in the Langhe, been a family affair with it being run by four different generations. Its selection of Barbaresco wine is almost endless with Barbaresco Asili Riserva, Barbaresco Asili, Barbaresco Pora, Barbaresco Vallegrande, Barbaresco Vallegrande and Barbaresco Marcarini all being produced there. A visit to this vineyard will certainly give you a fascinating insight into Barbaresco wine.
Cantina del Glicine, which dates back to 1582, is also worth a visit as the winery extends under the house and the garden. Again there are lots of variations of Barbaresco wine that visitors can try including Marcorino, Currà and Vignesparse.
Restaurant to visit for the best Barbaresco
Located in the heart of the Barbaresco wine region, La Ciau del Tornavento is full of Piemontese cuisine.
Some of the restaurant’s signature dishes include creamy risotto with ‘foie gras’, sprinkled with cocoa and fried lamb chops, veal brain, “semolino”, beef bone marrow, and apple fritters.
Foods to have with Marsala
- Chicken with Marsala. This easy to make dish, which combines chicken, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, parsley and black pepper, is made even more delicious by adding a splash of Marsala wine. You can see a full recipe of the dish on The Recipe Critic blog.
Vineyards to visit for Marsala
The Cantine BARRACO winery uses a unique agronomic practice during the wine making process and the vineyard’s tagline is to produce wines that are “recognised by their personality”.
As well as Marsala, white, red, and rosé wines are produced here so there is plenty of variety on offer to visitors.
Restaurant to visit for the best Marsala
The San Lorenzo Osteria restaurant is located in the historic centre of Marsala and serves a variety of traditional Sicilian cuisine.
The wine list has a selection of over 80 local and national wines, including Marsala, and it is continually updated throughout the year.
Foods to have with Zibibbo
- Italian pizza
Vineyards to visit for Zibibbo
If you are holidaying in a Sicily hotel, then you should visit the Donnafugata Aziende Vitivinicole winery as the family-run business has helped revolutionise the style and perception of Sicilian wine. It has three different production sites; the ancient cellars in Marsala, the cellar of Contessa Entellina, and its Khamma Winery in Pantelleria, a volcanic island between Sicily and Africa.
Founded over 130 years ago by Paolo Pellegrino, Cantina di Pantelleria is another winery that is well-known for producing Zibibbo. After its humble beginnings, Cantina di Pantelleria’s wines can be found stocked in large retailers from around the world.
Restaurant to visit for the best Zibibbo
Palermo-based L’Ottava Nota offers creative cuisine and a selection of local wines such as Zibibbo. The ingredients that are used for its dishes are local and its wine list is full of red and white wines.
Foods to have with Pinot Grigio
- Light fish dishes
- Food and Wine also recommends seafood tostada bites
- Creole Shrimp with Garlic and Lemon
- Grilled Squid Salad with Celery Leaf Pesto
Vineyards to visit for Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is so widely produced across northern Italy with the regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli, Trentino and Alto Adige all producing this world-famous wine.
The Bastianich winery is a modern winery having been founded in 1997, but the winery still produces unique wines that encapsulate the history and culture of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
In contrast, the Franz Haas Winery was established in 1880 and has been handed down through seven generations. It is made up of 55 vine-planted hectares close to the city of Bolzano.
The Nals Margreid Winery boasts appealing architecture, but even more impressive wines. In all a staggering 30 wines are produced in its vineyards in South Tyrol.
Restaurant to visit for the best Pinot Grigio
Ristorante Berton was opened by Andrea Berton in Milan, Lombardy and has since gone on to be awarded a Michelin star.
The menu boasts a selection of traditional Italian dishes as well as more modern, alternative dishes. The restaurant has food for everyone with chicken, pork, beef, lamb, veal, rabbit and seafood dishes all available.
Foods to have with Soave
- Carbonara and smoked salmon
- Mushroom pastas
Vineyards to visit for Soave
Dating back to 1898, it is unsurprising that visitors to Cantina di Soave can see the traditional winemaking process used in the Verona area for hundreds and thousands of years. Today the production sites and vineyards cover five valleys in the eastern Verona area and these produce its famous Soave wine.
Suavia is the ancient name given to Soave and this represents everything the winery does as it specialises in Soave wine. On top of its Soave Classico wine, the winery makes Monte Carbonare, Le Rive and a few other white wines.
Restaurant to visit for the best Soave
Owner of two Michelin stars, Casa Perbellini is located in the heart of Verona, the city renowned for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
The restaurant turns the kitchen into a theatrical stage, but on top of the entertainment it serves award-winning food and a whole host of Soave wine.
Foods to have with Amarone
- Horsemeat stew
- Duck cooked in balsamic vinegar
- Robust pasta dishes
Vineyards to visit for Amarone
Tommasi Viticoltori has a number of estates, but its Comune di Sant’ Ambrogio produces its own stately Amarone, which is renowned all over the world. This is why wine enthusiasts from all over the globe descend on this winery to try the famous Amarone.
Tenuta Santa Maria Valverde is a self-sufficient winery that produces Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2008 Classic. This dry wine is considered to be amongst the most important red wines in Italy.
Restaurant to visit for the best Amarone
Il Cenacolo showcases the best that Italian and Veronese cuisine has to offer and with its superb wine list this restaurant ticks all the boxes. If you choose risotto as a first course, then it will be accompanied with complimentary Amarone wine!
Foods to have with Brunello
- Fine roast leg of lamb with rosemary
- Pot roast pheasant
- Roast squab with truffles
- Tuscan-style steak, preferably sourced from the indigenous Chianina beef
Vineyards to visit for Brunello
Castiglion del Bosco has two wineries and its 42-hectare Capanna vineyard grows the Sangiovese grapes that produce the famous Brunello Di Montalcino wine. The Brunello produced at the vineyard is described by Castiglion del Bosco as releasing “generous, emphatic fragrances”.
Biondi Santi owns the vineyards of the Greppo Estate and they are well-known for producing Brunello. The grapes that make Brunello usually bloom at the end of May or start of June and from this crop the winery often makes around 80,000 bottles of the wine.
Restaurant to visit for the best Brunello
Il Faconiere in Cortona has stunning views of the Chiana valley, but diners will be glad to hear that the food lives up to the views.
The Michelin starred restaurant has a number of delicious dishes available, but wine lovers will be suitably impressed by the fact there are many wine options on offer. These include the iconic Brunello wine.
Foods to have with Chianti Classico
Vineyards to visit for Chianti Classico
The Antinori Chianti Classico winery looks at the past, present, and future of the Antinori family and about their love and passion for Chianti Classico. The winery has been winemaking for over 600 years now and has been passed down 26 generations.
Restaurant to visit for the best Chianti Classico
The Florence-based La Bottega del Buon Caffe serves a range of traditional Tuscan food, but combines the food with its wine bar and shop.
The wine bar has an extensive collection of over 1,100 boutique wines from Tuscany including Chianti Classico, Masseto, and Sassicaia to name just a few.
Foods to have with Frascati
- Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
- Mozzarella and Basil pizza
- Rigatoni with Pork Ragù and Fresh Ricotta
Vineyards to visit for the best Frascati
Principe Pallavicini is a famous winery known for producing Frascati wines and in the past has welcomed a pope, cardinals, the first mayor of Rome, and many famous artists.
The wine will most definitely catch your attention, but the spectacular vineyards, olive trees, 17th Century farmhouses, and restored caverns make for a beautiful setting too.
Restaurant to visit for the best Frascati
La Cucina Con Vista is a modern restaurant in Frascati and with enchanting views, great food and wine, it comes as little surprise that it is a hugely popular restaurant.
The Tuscan restaurants wine list is extensive as it boasts wines from the local area such as Frascati and other wines from across Italy.
Foods to have with Orvieto
- Cured meats
- Pork or wild boar sausages
- Black truffles
- Game birds and lentils
Vineyards to visit for Orvieto
Enrico Neri’s Cantine Neri winery, which is located on the outskirts of Orvieto, dates back to the 1950s.
The entire vineyard is around 300 metres above sea level and is composed of around 80 per cent white grape varieties and 20 per cent red grape varieties. Some of its other wines include Olio dei Neri and Poggio Forno.
Restaurant to visit for the best Orvieto
The Altarocca Restaurant boasts a range of centuries-old traditional dishes of Umbria and in particular of Orvieto. It also has a great selection of wines including Orvieto classico superior.
Foods to have with Verdicchio
- Fish, especially raw fish
- Pesto-based dishes
Vineyards to visit for Verdicchio
The Foyer Verdicchio di Matelica winery tells visitors all about the culture and history of Verdicchio. Visitors who go on guided tours can also explore the resident Roman baths and theatre as well.
Azienda Agraria Guerrieri doesn’t just produce Verdicchio wine, but lots of white, red, sparkling, and rosé wines to boot. The 43 hectares of vineyards are generally dedicated to white grapes that help produce Bianchello, Verdicchio, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon e Moscato.
Restaurant to visit for the best Verdicchio
As Verdicchio is a great wine to accompany raw fish, the Clandestino Susci Bar in Marche offers you the chance to really appreciate the wine.
Clandestino Susci Bar is located in Portonovo Bay and is run by two star Michelin chef Moreno Cedroni, who is regarded as one of the most innovative Italian chefs. The menu includes a range of fish and seafood from tuna and cod to mackerel and scallops.
Foods to have with Lambrusco
- Italian-style sausages
- Grilled chicken
Vineyards to visit for Lambrusco
Cantina Carpi e Sorbara is well-known for producing some of the best Lambrusco you can taste in Italy. Its Lambrusco wines include Salamino Di Santa Croce, Di Sorbara and Di sorbara secco.
Situated in the rural province of Reggio Emilia, Podere Francesco is a winery that has always been dedicated to the cultivation of traditional grapes. Visitors can taste a range of Lambrusco wines and can even buy balsamic vinegars made at the winery.
Restaurant to visit for the best Lambrusco
Osteria Francescana has three Michelin stars and according to a piece on the Telegraph it has the “most understated and simplest three-star food”.
Starters range from cold meat to seafood, while mains such as tortellini in broth, ravioli of foie gras, leek and truffle are all very popular. The restaurant even offers wine pairing with its food meaning that you will be served meals that are ideally suited to Lambrusco.
Foods to have with Ciro
- Roasted potatoes
- Stigghiolata (goat intestines)
Vineyards to visit for Ciro
The Librandi Winery dates back as far as 1953 and is located in Eastern Calabria, which was once known by the Greeks as the “Land of Wine”.
Now, the winery is regarded as an expert grower of Ciro and visitors can go on tours of the winery that starts in the wine-making area and ends in its logistics department, after going through the barrel cellar and bottling line. There are also tasting sessions available after the tour where you can sample their wine and taste traditional local delicacies.
Restaurant to visit for the best Ciro
Pepperoncino’s is not too far away from the Librandi Winery and is located in Ciro Marina. The restaurant is well-known for its pizzas and with indoor and outdoor eating areas it is a great place to visit no matter what the weather.
Foods to have with Primitivo
- Duck (roasted or fried)
Vineyards to visit for Primitivo
Carvinea winery produces high-quality and award-winning wines that are regarded among the finest wines of Italy. The winery produces Primitivo and guests can also try Metodo Classico Brut Rosè, MerulaRosa and Negroamaro
Tenute Chiaromonte dates back as far as 1826, but the 32 hectare winery produced the first bottles of Muro Sant’Angelo in 1998 and from then on the company has been considered one of the best Primitivo winemakers, gaining the “Three Glasses” award.
Restaurant to visit for the best Primitivo
The Ristorante Biancofiore in Bari is an authentic Mediterranean restaurant that also serves seafood and classic Italian dishes.
Fresh pasta, fish, and traditional Puglia cuisine are served at the eatery and its impressive wine list includes Primitivo and other wines from all over Italy.
Foods to have with Falanghina
- Cooked fish
- Grilled prawns
Vineyards to visit for Falanghina
Cantine Antonio Caggiano is the benchmark for people who want to know and appreciate the great Irpinia wines and Falanghina.
The Falanghina I.G.T Campania is one of the winery’s most popular wines, but visitors can also try other white wines such as Fiagre, Bechar and Mel raisin wine. There are also lots of red wines available to taste on tours of Cantine Antonio Caggiano.
Restaurant to visit for the best Falanghina
As Naples is one of the most popular destinations in Campania, we have recommended a restaurant that is based there.
Crudore is a specialist fish restaurant that is well-known for its raw and seafood dishes as the eatery draws inspiration from the world of yachting.
Falanghina pairs well with fish and Crudore has a wide selection of this type of wine as well as other white and red wines. See their full wine list here.
Foods to have with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
- Beef and pork empanadas
Vineyards to visit for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Zaccagnini winery, which was established in 1978, is located in a small town in the Abruzzi region. After starting as a family-run business, the winery now has over 300 hectares of vineyards and has an annual production of over 3 million bottles destined for an international market including Australia, USA, Europe, Japan, Singapore and South Africa.
Restaurant to visit for the best Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
After a visit to the Zaccagnini winery, you can head to Regina Elena, which is also located in the city of Pescara.
This popular restaurant serves a variety of local Italian cuisine as well as Mediterranean dishes and seafood. Spaghetti, risotto, gnocchi and salmon are all recommended dishes and luckily diners can wash down their food with one of a number of wines that are on offer.
Foods to have with Sangiovese
- Game meat
- Pizza with grilled vegetables
- Pasta with meat sauce
- Fiorentina steak
Vineyards to visit for Sangiovese
Di Majo Norante has produced wines from their own grapes since 1800 and the 85-hectare winery is a great place to try Sangiovese.
Other reds that are produced at the winery include Contado, Don Luigi, Ramitello, Tintilia and Moli Rosso as well as white, sparkling and rose wines.
Restaurant to visit for the best Sangiovese
Il Casale di Clesilde serves typical Molise cuisine and no matter whether you are vegan, vegetarian or an omnivore there is something for everyone.
Set in a 19th Century building and located next to a lake makes it a really romantic setting for diners. The restaurant is part of an 11 hectare farm that has olive groves, vineyards, fruit trees and a vegetable garden.
Wine tasting tips
You can learn how to taste wine like an expert by following our top tips:
Evaluate the wine by sight
The glass should be around a third full and then you should look straight into the glass, then through the side of the glass before tilting the glass so the wine moves towards the rim as this can provide clues as to the age and weight of the wine. Last, but not least, you should give the glass a swirl and if the wine forms legs or tears on the side of the glass it suggests that it has more alcohol and glycerine content.
Take a good sniff
Give the glass another swirl and hover your nose over the top of the glass. You need to take a few quick, short sniffs before stepping away. You should then be able to pick up some fruit, floral or even wine barrel aromas like toast, smoke, vanilla, chocolate or roasted nut smells.
Tasting the wine
Now it is time to taste the wine. It is important to sip the wine and not swallow large quantities of it.
The Wine Enthusiast says you should try sucking on the wine as if you are drinking it through a straw as this helps aerate it and circulates it throughout your mouth. By following this process you should taste a number of different aromas.