Understanding an Italian wine label
Question from Amy: It’s so damn delicious but there are so many things that confuse me about Italian wine! My main beef is the name of the wine which is rarely the same as the grape variety! Why?!? When reading an Italian wine list 99.9% of the time it’s a lucky dip as to what grape variety you’re going to get. Could you run me through the common names and what grapes are used?
In a nut shell: As far as Italian wines go, every now and again the name of the wine is the same as the name of the grape. But more often than not the name of the wine has nothing to do with the grape. Yes, infuriating! I’ve put together a handy little table below that you can print off and stick on your fridge or in your wallet. It will help you next time you’re confronted by an Italian wine list.
In a clam shell: There are at least 350 COMMON grape varieties in Italy so rest assured, you are not alone, everyone is a little confused! However some grape varieties and blends are more common than others. I’ve listed the ones that regularly appear on our wine lists or in our local bottle shops and their corresponding grape varieties. Hope it helps!
|Name (what’s usually on the label)||Colour||Grape variety|
|Amarone (della Valpolicella)||Red||Corvina, Rondinella and others|
|Bardolino||Red||Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and others|
|Brindisi Rosso||Red||Negroamato and others|
|Brunello di Montalcino||Red||Sangiovese|
|Chianti||Red||Sangiovese and others|
|Cortese di Gavi||White||Cortese|
|Frascati||White||Trebbiano, Malvasia, Grechetto and others|
|Pinot Grigio||White||Pinot Gris|
|Salice Salentino Rosso||Red||Negroamato|
|Soave||White||Garganega and Trebbiano|
|Valpolicella||Red||Corvina, Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara|
|Vernaccia di San Gimignano||White||Vernaccia|
|Vino Nobile di Montepulciano||Red||Sangiovese|
Image from http://www.understandingitaly.com/regions.html