Italian Wine Grapes
With over 350 regional wines and over 500 native Italian wine grapes, where do you start for Italian wine ? We will introduce 3 types of Italian red wines made from 3 different Italian grapes and whose names you might have heard of or seen in your favourite wine bars or restaurants.
The 3 Italian Red Wines are made from the following grapes
1. Sangiovese - This is Italy’s most important red wine variety that’s the base grape of many types of Chianti wines.
The Sangiovese that forms the majority of the Chianti blend is a thin-skinned grape and displays a ruby red color. There are 3 levels of classification based on the aging of the wine.
There are a lot of taste differences in Chianti wine when you age it.
Level 1 : Chianti
Aged for 6 months. Young, simple, everyday wine.
Level 2 : Superiore
Aged for a year. Slightly bolder wines with better and smoother acidity.
Level 3 : Riserva
Aged for 2 years. These are the top wines of a Chianti wine maker.
Click the link below to discover more about wine produced from sangiovese grapes and the different types of Chianti wines.
2. Valpolicella - There are 5 levels of Valpolicella wine made from the grapes in this region.
Tier 1: Valpolicella Classico
Graded DOC. Produced in the largest quantity for everyday consumption.
Tier 2: Valpolicella Superiore
Graded DOC. Requirements include a minimum 12% ABV and 1 year in wood. Darker color than Valpolicella Classico.
Tier 3: Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso
Graded DOC. It is also known as Ripasso della Valpolicella. Best value Italian wine made by using the grape skins leftover from pressing dried grapes for Amorone in a second fermentation with fresh Valpolicella, essentially infusing the wine with more complexity.. Ripasso, meaning “re-pass,” or “go over again,” a process that proved so successful it was given its own DOC in 2007.
Tier 4: Amarone della Valpolicella -
Graded DOCG. Requirements include a minimum ABV 14%-16% with minimum 2 years aging prior to release.
It is made with Valpolicella grapes that are dried for 4-5 months to lose water and concentrate sugars. A good Amorone can be cellared for up to 10+ years, some more than 20 years.
Tier 5: Recioto della Valpolicella
Graded DOCG. Requirements include 12% ABV. It is a Dessert Wine made from the same grapes as Amarone, same process. But fermentation is
halted before completion to leave residual sugar in the wine making it extremely concentrated and complex.
Click the link below to discover more about wine produced from Valpolicella grapes and the differences between Classico, Ripasso and Amorone
3. Montepulciano - Montepulciano is the primary red wine grape in Abruzzo and the wines are called Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano (the grape) makes a dark, rich wine with high tannins and an herbaceous character.
Click the link below to discover more about wine produced from Montepulciano grapes and learn more about them.
Common Italian Wine Terms
DOC, DOCG and IGT are letters that you see on bottles of Italian wine. .
1) DOC Wine Meaning
DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Denomination of Controlled Origin).
A “controlled designation of origin” is a quality assurance label for Italian wine.
2) DOCG Wine Meaning
DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin, DOCG).
D.O.C.G. is the highest level of this assurance label.
3) IGT Wine Meaning
IGT stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica
It is another type of quality assurance label for Italian wine created to recognize the unusually high quality of the class of wines known as Super Tuscans. IGT wines are labeled with the locality of their creation. Wines made with non-Italian grapes like Merlot and Chardonnay often fall under this category.