For the less experienced wine drinker, varieties of wine may be divided simply into just red or white, and sometimes pink. Champagne may also be through in there as a type of bubbly white wine. Do not think of this as some kind of insult. I’m just laying out on the simplest terms. More enthusiastic wine drinkers will be able to sort them into specific types of wine grapes. While the Cabernet wines may be ruling the world, do not leave out the delicious wine grapes that come right out of Italy.
The White Wines
Let’s start with the simple things. Here is a short list of some of the white wine grape varieties that are grown in Italy.
Arneis: This variety is grown in Piedmont and has been since the 1400s.
Catarratto: You will find this type of white grape grown in Sicily
Friulano: This type of white wine grape is very similar to Sauvignon. Sometimes it is even referred to as Sauvignon Vert or Sauvignonasse. It is grown in Friuli.
Garganega: This grape is grown around the city of Verona, known of course for the ill-fated tale of Romeo and Juliet. The wine that the grape goes into is called Soave, which is actually produced by more than 3,500 different wine distributers.
Moscato Blanc:Moscatos have really come into fashion recently as the wines that are easier to drink for non-wine drinkers. They are much sweeter than other white grapes. Moscato Blanc is grown in Piedmont and is normally used in the sparkling wine white frizzante, which is similar to champagne, but not dry.
Nuragus: This type of wine grape is one of the oldest varieties in the world. The grape produces a light and tart wine that is used as an aperitif and is grown in Sardinia.
Passerina: The Passerina grapes are usually used in sparkling white wines, similar to the Mascato Blanc, but instead of sweet, they are notoriously tart.
Pinot Grigio: This has to be the most-recognized type of white Italian wine in the world. Pinot Grigio, which is the same as France’s Pinot Gris, is more commercial and easily grown. It is known to be clean and crisp and can be light of full-bodied.
The Red Wines
Now that you have met some of the white wines of Italy, let’s take a look at some of the red wine grapes that are grown there.
Aglianico: This one has been hailed as the “noble varietal of the south” and is usually grown in Basilicata and Campania. It is known to be spicy and have a thick skin.
Aglianicodel Vulture: This type of red grape is based on the Aglianico grape that is grown Basilicata, but instead it is grown in Vulture. It is an off-shoot of an originally Greek variety of wine grape.
Barbera: You will probably look at this name and have an association with the word “Barbarian.” Side note, but the Berbers are a group of people in Northern Africa so you are not too far off. This is the most-grown wine grape in Piedmont and Southern Lombardy. It was once considered to be cheap wine and only worth drinking when there was not anything finer available. This is not the case anymore though and now it is well-known as being high quality on the international market.
Corvina: This is the primary grape that is used in the Amarone and Valpolicella varieties of wine. It takes like dark cherries, oak, and spices, making it one of the more impressionable red wine grapes you can get from Italy.
Dolcetto: The Dolcetto grape is grown in Piedmont. Its name literally translates to “little sweet one,” but that is not talking about how the grape tastes, but instead that is an easy grape to grow and is good for everyday drinking. Its flavor is more like blackberries with herbs.
Nebbiolo: The name translates to mean “little fog,” talking more about the environment where it is grown rather than the type of hangover it could give you. It is a hard grape to grow and the wine needs to age about 50 years before it is really good to drink.