Italy is well known for creating delectable wine, and with over 3,000 years of viticultural history they have had time to perfect the many variants. Picking an Italian wine can feel overwhelming as there are 20 individual wine regions across the country. We break it down to the basics for a reference guide, and of course Club Jeroboam is always happy to help you select a wine to fit your palate.
Italian Wine Classifications
Italy has regional wine regulations to ensure their quality and govern production. The classifications require wine to satisfy a quality standard and be produced within a particular region, specifying factors such as grape variety, harvest yields, aging, and alcohol content. The DOC label, an abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, has been granted to 329 wines in Italy. A bottle labeled DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantia) has more strict qualifications and is considered to be the highest designation, with only 77 wines having this status today.
The Different Wine Regions Within Italy
While there are technically 20 wine regions in Italy, the major regions can be subdivided into 5 distinct areas: Northwest Italy, Northeast Italy, Western Central Italy, Eastern Central Italy, and Southern Italy. The most significant regions in terms of quality and quantity are considered to be Tuscany, Piedmont, and Veneto.
Arguably, the most famous wine growing region in Italy is Tuscany. Located in the Western Central sub-region, the rolling hills and the vicinity to the Mediterranean are ideal for the cultivation of Sangiovese grapes. Tuscany is best known for its rich dry reds, such as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and its dry and refreshing white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The term “Super Tuscan” is used for wines that don’t conform to the region’s traditional laws. These are typically red blends that implement the use of international grape varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Home to more DOCG wines than any other Italian region is Piedmont. Being in Northwest Italy, the Piedmont region borders France and Switzerland and is named “foot of the mountains” due to its mountainous terrain. The black Nebbiolo grape is the heart of renown Barolo and Barbaresco wines produced in the region. These red wines are full bodied, boasting earthy characteristics. Piedmont is also home to the delicate Moscato one of the oldest grapes in the world which possesses sweet fruity flavors.
Veneto is Italy’s most productive wine region. Located in Northeast Italy, the proximity to the Alps ensures a cooler temperature suitable to many white grape varieties. Veneto’s volume of Pinot Grigio and demand for the popular Prosecco keep it notable. Both white and red wines that come from Veneto grapes such as Garganega and Corvina could be described crisp and light.
Italian Wines Hand Picked for You
As this article barely scratches the surface, it is easy to see how Italy is unable to be simplified into a singular wine culture. There is something for each wine lover from somewhere in Italy—at Club Jeroboam we are happy to help you find it!