Italian Grapes

Italy is home to large amount of grape varieties. Sangiovese, Barbera and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are well-known throughout the world and are the basis for many fantastic wines. Most known where these grapes are grown but what is with Fiano d’Avellino, Vermentino, Aglianico or Corvina? The latter one for example is the basis for all Amarone wines.

Here is an alphabetical list most Italian grape varieties. The most important ones are highlighted.

Albana (white)
Native grape of the Emilia-Romagna. Albana di Romagna DOCG is famous throughout Italy.

Aglianico (red)
Primarily grown in Campania and Basilicata. Aglianico del Vulture DOCG is a stunning wine from Basilicata.

Aleatico (red)
Often found in Puglia and other Southern Italian regions. Many dessert wines are made from this grape.

Arneis (white)
This grape has its home in Piedmont. Mostly grown in the hills northwest of Alba. Roero DOC wines made with Arneis are usually dry, full body white wines. Grappa is also manufactured from Arneis grapes.

Barbera (red)
Grape from Piedmont. Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti are known throughout the world. Third most planted grape in Italy. 2 DOCG and 5 DOC wines are made from Barbera. Often notes of blackberry and spices with a high acidity & light tannins.

Bonarda (red)
Primarily planted in Lombardia. A few DOCs are made with this grape.

Cannonau (red)
Famous wine from the island of Sardinia. Not planted anywhere else.  Cannonau wines tend to be dry, strong wines with a big body and a high ABV.

Catarratto (white)
Planted around the town of Salaparuta, Sicily where the grape also has it’s own DOC – Salaparuta DOC.

Ciliegiolo (red)
Grown primarily in Tuscany and Umbria. In Tuscany it’s often used for Chianti.

Coda di Volpe (white)
Mostly grown in Campania and found in blends with Greco di Tufo. The name of the grape translates into tail of the fox.

Corvina (red)
Very important Italian grape from the Veneto. Used in blends with other grapes to produce famous wines like Amarone, Recioto della Valpolicella, Valpolicella Superiore.

Corvinone (red)
Often confused with Corvina. They are both different & similar and same important. Usually found together with Corvina and Rondinella in Amarone wines.

Dolcetto (red)
Another grape from the Piedmont. Not as famous as the Barbera or the Nebbiolo. Fruity red wines black fruit and herbs are the result of the Dolcetto. There are a total of seven DOC one DOCG  (Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba DOCG) wines made from this grape.

Erbaluce (white)
Again Piedmont. Erbaluce is often found around the Colline Novaresi. White wines and passito (sweet dessert wine) are the most common use of this grape.

Fiano (white)
Grown on Sicily and in Campania. Fiano d’Avellino DOCG is one of Italy’s most well-known white wines. History tracks the grape back to the ancient Romans. Fiano wines tend to have strong aromas (often nuts, honey and white fruits) and a long finish.

Falanghina (white)
Falanghina is mostly planted around Naples, Camapania. Used in several wine blends. Many DOCs in Campania include in parts Falanghina grapes.

Frappato (red)
Planted on Sicily. Mostly found in parts in the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG – Sicily’s only DOCG wine.

Freisa (red)
Mostly found  in the Piedmont. Basis for many light red wines.

Friulano (white)
Planted in Friuli Venezia-Giulia. This grape is also known as Sauvignon Vert. For many years there has been confusion between Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Vert.

Fumin (red)
Native grape of the Aosta Valley. Used in blends for the DOCs of the Valle d’Aosta.

Garganega (white)
Grown in Northern Italy, mostly the Veneto. Results are fruity white wines with high acidity and green apple notes. The grape is also used to produce great dessert wines (passito)

Glera (white)
Native grape of the Veneto. Sparkling wines from this grape are known throughout the world. Non-sparkling wines from Prosecco are rather rare and almost only found in the Veneto.

Greco (white)
Campania offers many white wine varieties and is also the home of the Greco grape. Greco has greek origins and got planted over 2500 years ago for the first time in Italy. The grape’s name translates to Greek. Greco di Tufo DOCG wines tend to have lemon notes, a long finish and have a very long aging potential (often 10+ years).

Kerner (white)
Grown mainly in South Tyrol. Dry wines with high acidity.

Lagrein (red)
Native to South Tyrol. Mainly used for Lagrein DOC (red wine) but sometimes also for rosato.

Lambrusco (red)
Lambrusco is not only the name of a grape but also the name of a red sparkling wine from the Emilia-Romagna. Produced around Modena and Parma.

Malvasia Bianca (white)
Planted all across Italy and used in many blends.

Malvasia Nera (red)
Most Malvasia grapes are white grapes. Malvasia Nera is found all across Italy as well. Mostly noted in Piedmont, Tuscany and Puglia.

Montepulciano (red)
Second most planted grape in Italy. Most famous in Abruzzo. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG wines tend to be complex, have a big body, age very well, have strong aromas and a persistently long finish.

Moscato (white)
Moscato is white grape from the Piedmont. Often used for sparkling vino frizzante wines.

Nebbiolo (red)
Nebbiolo is the grape found in a variety of Piedmontese DOCG wines (Barolo DOCG; Barbaresco DOCG, Ghemme DOCG, Gattinara DOCG). Name derives from the Italian word nebbia meaning fog. Wines from Nebbiolo tend to have lots of tannins. Tobacco, herbs, ripe cherries, truffles and prunes are common aromas for these wines.

Negroamaro (red)
Planted in Puglia it’s found in many red wines in the Salento. Most well-known white from this grape is the Salice Salentino.

Nerello Mascalese (red)
Important grape to produce famous wines like the Etna Rosso on Sicily. Etna Rosso wines tend to be volcanic and mineralic.

Nero d’Avola (red)
Sicilian red grape. Famous for it’s intense plum aroma but rather unknown outside of Italy.

Molinara (red)
Another grape from the Veneto. Used in parts to produce Amarone and other great reds.

Monica (red)
Native to Sardinia. Not as famous as the Cannonau though.

Nuragus (white)
Ancient grape grown on Sardinia. Nuragus wines make an excellent aperitif.

Oseleta (red)
One of the four grapes found in Amarone della Valpolicella.

Pecorino (white)
This grape has the same name as the famous Pecorino cheese. Planted in the Marche and in Abruzzo.

Pigato (white)
Wines from Pigato are very acid. Pigato is planted in the Liguria region.

Pignoletto (white)
Pignoletto has its orgins in the Emilia-Romagna around the province of Bologna. Pignoletto is also the name of the sparkling vino frizzante made from the same grape. Pino Lieto is the non sparkling version.

Pinot Grigio (white)
Famous white from the Veneto. Used to be wine of mass production. Lately there have been some better wines from the Pinot Grigio grape, too.

Primitivo (red)
Important grape for the wine production in Puglia. Spicy, black fruit aromas and a high ABV are common for Primitivo wines. In the US it’s known as Zinfandel. Primitivo di Manduria DOC is widely known wine even outside of Italy.

Refosco (red)
Planted mostly in Friuli Venezia-Giulia where it’s used to create light red wines. Mostly used in the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC.

Rondinella (red)
Grown in the Veneto. Found in parts in every Amarone, Recioto della Valpolicella and Valpolicella Superiore.

Sagrantino (red)
This grape is native to Umbria. Wines from Sagrantino tend to be expensive since the grape is only planted by a few producers. Sagrantino sometimes gets blended with Sangiovese. No matter if pure or blended these wines tend to age very well.

Sangiovese (red)
The most important and most planted grape in Italy. Found in a large variety of famous wines (Chianti, Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore, Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and many more). Planted mostly in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna but found in other regions, too.

Schiava (red)
Almost only found in South Tyrol and Trentino.

Trebbiano (white)
Most widely planted white grape in Italy. Second most widely planted grape in the world. In France the grape is important for Cognac production. In Italy Trebbiano is found in more than 80 DOCs.

Uva di Troja (red)
Native grape of Puglia. Name derives from the ancient city Troy. Often used in blends but there are also pure wines from Uva di Troja.

Verdicchio (white)
Grown in the Marche region. Stunning white wines are made from this grape. Often fruity, with a long finish and low acidity.

Verduzzo (white)
Planted in Friuli Venezia-Giulia. A famous dessert wine is made from this grape.

Vermentino (white)
Well-known grape from Sardinia. Also found in Tuscany. Vermentino Toscano and Vermentino di Sardegna are taste-wise two completely different wines.

Vernaccia (white)
This grape is mostly known for the Vernaccia di San Gimignano which is native to Tuscany.

Vernatsch (red)
A red grape from South Tyrol. Often found in young wines.

Zibibbo (white)
Important grape to produce the famous Passito di Pantelleria dessert wine. The grape might have originally been from Egypt. The Sicilian Zibibbo has at least large similarities to the Egyptian grape.

This guide is probably not complete since Italy offers such a large variety of grapes. If you feel that a grape is missing then use the comment section below to let me know.

21 comments on “Italian Grapes”

  1. Roberto Rossello Reply

    Bravo! Una bella descrizione dei più importanti vitigni d’Italia!!

    • vinibuoni Reply

      Italy has so many different grapes which is one of the reasons why I love Italian wine so much.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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  10. Mari Reply

    Impressing list and, still, Italy has many more of autochthon varieties. I’m definitely in love with some of the listed varieties: Refosco or Cannonau are real treasures! And then also the ‘eccellente Marzemino’ as we know it from ‘Don Giovanni’ by Mozart 😉

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