Rolling hills in Veneto

Italian wine regions

By BBC Maestro

Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, and Chianti… Italy has contributed so much to the world of wine. Whether it’s red or white you prefer, it’s a region that has plenty to offer, and it’s stooped in viticulture history too. 

So, let’s take a look at the different wine regions of Italy and which kind of grapes and wines you and can expect to find where.

Famous Italian wine regions


One of the world’s most iconic wine regions, this corner of Italy has long been hailed for its winemaking. Famous for its rolling hills lined with grapevines, olive trees, and lavender; it attracts thousands of tourists a year, ready to soak up the views. And taste the wine too. 

Wine production can be traced back for 3000 years in Tuscany. While white wines do find their place here, it’s the dry reds that truly steal the spotlight. One grape particularly dominates – the Sangiovese. 

The Sangiovese has a real bite to it. You can tell that the wines are made to be drunk with food.

Jancis Robinson

The quality of wines made from Sangiovese grapes depends largely on the exposure and the altitude at which they’re planted. Those rolling hills house plenty of vineyards that sit high up, and winters can be cool and harsh. For years, Sangiovese grapes found it hard to ripen, but thanks to warmer summers it’s becoming less and less of a problem. Now it’s producing red wines akin to Bordeaux wines, but with some distinct flavours. 

Chianti is another stand-out area when it comes to Tuscan wines. Chianti Classico is known for its consistent quality and often combines Sangiovese with other grape varieties to enhance the complexity of its flavour. You’ll find even smaller sub-regions here such as Chianti Colli Aretini and Chianti Colli Fiorentini, which offer some more variety to the region.

Brunello di Montalcino is a red DOCG wine made in and around the town of Montalicino, which Jancis Robinson argues may be one of Italy’s greatest wines. If you traipse down South in the region to Maremma, you’ll also find Cabernet Sauvignon blends worth a try.

Look out for: Chianti Classico, Chianti, and Brunello di Montalcino, all made primarily from Sangiovese grapes. 

And if you’re looking for something a little more exclusive, try a Vin Santo – a Tuscan speciality usually made from dried white Malvasia grapes.


The Nebbiolo grape reigns in Piemonte, creating intense, perfumed reds with exceptional ageing potential. Nebbiolo grapes are very pale in appearance and make for quite a chewy taste when drinking young. So it’s worth ageing a Nebbiolo wine like Barolo or Barbaresco from Piedmont. 

You can find white wines in the region too, made from local grapes like Arneis or Moscato. If you’re a sparkling wine drinker, look to the subregion of Asti to find a Moscato d’Asti – a sweeter sparkling wine.

Look out for: Barolo or Barbaresco for something special: Nebbiolo delle Langhe, or wines from two other red wine grapes – Barbera or Dolcetto – for something a little less expensive.


Sicily’s wine scene has transformed remarkably in recent years. It’s, “the one Italian wine region where producers all over the rest of Italy have been trying to move into”, says Jancis Robinson. Previously overlooked, the island is now producing wines of character and longevity, arguably due to rediscovering old vines on Mount Etna’s slopes. 

But you’ll also discover small pockets of fine wine being made all over this Mediterranean island. Local producers are making an array of wines – each distinct in their own way. 

But it’s wines from the vineyards of Etna, that Jancis says are worth exploring. In particular, the “pale, delicate, Burgundian reds”. If you’re a white wine drinker, keep an eye out for Sicilian white wines too. Take note of Jancis’ hot-take on Sicily as a region, “as long as it’s not the basic price level, it’s likely to be producing some really fine wine”.

Look out for: wines made from Nerello Mascalese or Nero d’Avola grapes.


The Veneto region is one of Italy’s most important wine-producing areas, making more than any of the regions mentioned above. Here you’ll find Valpolicella, Amarone, Soave, Prosecco, and Pinot Grigio dominating.

Though once recognised for satisfactory wines, ambitious winemakers are leading the charge to change that. Wines with ‘Classico’ on their label are made within the centre of the region and promise better quality.  

Look out for: Valpolicella Superiore, Recioto, Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, Soave, and Bardolino.


Located in the mountainous south of Italy and next to the Adriatic Sea is Abruzzo. Here, the combination of mountains and sea make for a unique climate where temperatures fluctuate dramatically between day and night. 

Two grape varieties put the region on the map, Montepulciano and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. The first, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, makes for a deep and dense red, that tastes better with time. It’s one of the best-selling Italian wines. The Trebbiano also makes for something special according to Jancis.

The hills around Teramo yield the finest wines, including Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane, which has earned its own DOCG distinction.

Look out for: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane or a Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.


This region of Italy is an important contributor to the world of wine, producing more wine than Australia. It produces robust and full-bodied red wines that are crafted mainly from the Primitivo and Negroamaro grape varieties. It’s certainly a region to watch, with pioneering producers crafting their own rules.


Surrounding the city of Naples, Campania is one of Italy’s most historic wine regions. Many of the vines here are suspected to be direct offspring of those that were brought to this area by the ancient Greeks. Some of the main grape varieties here are Falanghina, Fiano, Aglianico, and Greco.

Look out for: Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo for white wine lovers, and Aglianico del Taburno for reds.

Like many regions across the world, there is still so much more land to explore when it comes to Italy. Its grape growing conditions vary dramatically per wine region, meaning there’s plenty of distinct flavours and styles of wine to try. 

If you want to learn more about European wine regions, we’ve also covered Spain and France in this series. And if it’s the world of wine as a whole that calls you, take a look at Jancis Robinson’s course, An Understanding of Wine. You’ll get to grips with tasting and pairing, choosing the right bottle, and the ever-changing impacts of climate change on viticulture. 

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