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Italian red wines: types and characteristics

Red wines that have always been part of Italian history

Italy is the world's leading wine producer. Thanks to the quality of the harvested grapes and the specifications that clearly establish the rules for the correct production and vinification of the various denominations, Italian red wines are among the most appreciated and prized.

Italian red wines are typically fruity and full-bodied, with strong tannins giving them a characteristic taste. That said, the taste of Italian reds varies according to the specific grapes used and their origin.

Naturally, there are many different grapes that are cultivated from north to south across the country, and they all deserve a thorough examination in order to fully appreciate the final product. But which are the main red wines that have made Italy famous throughout the world?


Northern Italy: the most famous red wines 

Wines from the northern part of Italy are among the most appreciated and renowned abroad, and each region counts on one or more wine growing areas.

Barolo is one of the most expensive Italian wines and also one of the most famous. This wine, which has a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), comes from the Piedmont area and is produced from the Nebbiolo grape. The Barolo production area includes the Langhe, between the provinces of Cuneo and Asti, bordering on Roero and Monferrato. Today, Barolo is produced in 11 municipalities around the town of Alba. Garnet red in colour with orange highlights, the fruity and floral notes of violet and vanilla are accompanied by more spicy notes. It is a wine with an imposing structure – powerful, balanced and elegant – perfect to accompany a meat menu. 

Barbera is a medium-bodied red wine known for its fruity flavours and aromas and is made from the grape of the same name. Ruby red in colour, Barbera d'Asti DOCG gains intensity and tends towards garnet red with ageing. The aroma is fruity and intense and the taste is dry, pleasantly fresh and floral. Suitable for the whole meal, Barbera is perfect in combination with savoury dishes.

Amarone is a top-quality Italian red wine from the Valpolicella region in north-eastern Italy, one of the best red wines from Veneto. Made from grapes that have been partially dried in a process known as appassimento, Amarone wines are full-bodied and vibrant and also give life to the special Amarone risotto.

The red wines of Central Italy 

Continuing our Italian wine journey, in Central Italy it is Tuscany that reigns supreme with its red wines.  
The king of Italian wines is , known and acclaimed worldwide. The Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita became autonomous in 1996 and is recognisable by the "Gallo Nero" ("Black Rooster") symbol that identifies the Consorzio del Chianti Classico. It is produced with a minimum of 70% Sangiovese grapes and a maximum of 10% Canaiolo nero. Red grapes from vines suitable for cultivation within the Tuscany region may also be used. The wine has an intense ruby red colour and is dry, savoury and robust on the palate.
Remaining in Tuscany, another star among red wines is Brunello di Montalcino, also made from Sangiovese grapes. Brunello di Montalcino DOCG requires long periods of ageing before being released on the market: five years from the time of harvesting, at least two years of which in oak casks, and a further four months in bottles. In the glass, it is characterised by its ruby red colour, which tends to become garnet red as it ages. It is a distinctive red wine with a decidedly intense and persistent bouquet and a taste that warmly envelops the palate.

Red wines of Southern Italy, from Primitivo to Nero d'Avola

Primitivo di Manduria is one of the main red wines of Apulia, a region in the south of Italy, caressed by spectacular sun and sea. The result is a structured and vigorous wine, very fruity but velvety, with a minimum alcohol content of 14 degrees. The variety achieves its highest quality in the areas of Manduria (Taranto) and Gioia del Colle (Bari) and was awarded the Denominazione di Origine Controllata in 1974. Primitivo di Manduria DOC has an intense ruby red colour, while the nose offers aromas of dark fruits and spices.

Nero d'Avola is the king of red grapes from Italy's largest island: Sicily. It displays elegance, opulence and character – a velvety, warm red. Nero d'Avola is a pleasant ruby red colour, more or less intense depending on the type of vineyard, location and ageing. Enriched with hints of berry, cherry and plum, it is perfect with red meats, roasts and mature cheeses.
Don't wait to discover the best Italian red wines selected for you by the experts at Svinando!


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