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Understanding Varietals
Pronunciation Glossary
Tasting Terms
How to Taste Wine
How Wine is Made
How Wine is Stored
Wine Regions
Wine Tidbits

Wine Regions
In the mid-1960's Italy applied controls to wines under the DOC (Denominazione di Origin Controllata) regulations. Additionally they added DOCG (the G is for Garantita or guaranteed authenticity). The 20 wine regions of Italy have about 300 DOC's and 21 DOCG's. Some of the DOCG's are: Barbaresco, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, Gattinara, Taurasi and Asti. Yet in recent times DOC and DOCG have accounted for only 12-15% of Italy's production. The majority of dry, still wines are labeled as Vino de Tavola. Or the new category- Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT). The former can specify color but no vintage, grape variety or place name; the latter classifies wines by color or grape variety and typology from large areas.

The following is a short summary of the 20 wine regions listed alphabetically:


Located in Central Italy, this mountainous region offers DOC wines based on the grape varieties Montepulciano and Trebbiano. The former is not to be confused with the Tuscan wine known as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.


Most commonly known as the heel of Italy's boot, in the South, the output of wine is the most voluminous in Italy. Although Apulia makes 1/6 as much classified wine as Tuscany, it has the same number of DOC's. Salice Salentino is the best known wine.


Located in the South, with Apulia on the East and Campania on the West, Basilicata's finest wine is the red-Aglianico.


The toe of Italy's boot, Calabria is the Southern most point of the Italian peninsula separated from Sicily by the Straits of Messina. Ciro is the most recognized wine here.


Located on the lower, West coast of the peninsula, the famed Isle of Capria is just offshore. . The red Taurasi is often called the Barolo of the South. Two of Italy's most distinctive white varietals are grown here- Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo, both in the hills East of Naples.


The Western part of this region, located in Northern Italy, is home to famed Lambrusco. What the world knows is sweet; at home it is usually dry. Albana holds the distinction of having been Italy's first white DOCG in 1987.


This region borders Austria and Croatia and is Italy's Eastern(North) most region. The two most prominent wine zones are Collio and Collio Orientali del Friuli.


Frascati and the fabled Est!Est!!Est!!! are the two famous whites from the region that surrounds the city of Rome, in Central Italy.

The legend among wines of this narrow coastal region in the North-East is Cinqueterre, a white wine. Vermentino from this area has been particularly successful.


Milan is the capitol of this Northern region. The alpine climate tempered by the lakes of Garda, Como and Maggiore in the North and the Apennines which influence the weather to the South have created highly favorable places for vines. In alpine Valtellina the Nebbiolo based reds-Grumello, Inferno, Sassella and Valgella are spirited away by the neighboring Swiss. There are also metodo classico sparkling wines produced here.


A slice of Central Italy that was once an appendix of Abruzzo and only gained official status in the 1980's. Montepulciano and Sangiovese are leading red varietals; Malvasia Bianca and Fiano are whites.


One of Italy's most modern regions. Turin, the capitol is home to Fiat and other major industry. The region has earned its greatest respect for super powerful red wines, the biggest of which are Barolo and Barbaresco, made from the Nebbiolo grape. The lighter Barbara and Dolcetto are also popular. Other grape varieties include: Freisa, Grignolino and Brachetto.Whites are prominate as well with Moscato di Asti, the grape used in Asti. Popular dry whites include: Gavi, made from the Cortese grape and Arneis. Piedmont is Italy's Western(North) most region and borders Switzerland and France on the other side of the Alps. Piedmont features the highest number of DOC and DOCG wines- almost 40.


Isolation in the Mediterranean makes Sardinia the most idiosyncratic of Italy's regions. The most lingering influence is Spanish as seen in Sardinia's most important varietals such as Connanau(Grenache), Monica and Vermentino, also of Spanish origin.


In the late 18th century the English created Marsala and Sicily became the major source of fortified wine. Sicily is Italy's largest region boasting the greatest number of vineyards. The region had a reputation for bulk wines second only to Apulia. The push for quality over quantity has been successful. The DOC system is not widely employed in Sicily.


This region, in the North, is Italy's corridor to Germany. The most famous varietals are Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco and Moscato. The area is Italy's largest producer of Chardonnay and a leader in sparkling wines. The lighter red wines are enjoyed in the German speaking countries which produce mostly white wines.


Chianti is the region's most obvious center of progress but much has been made of Tuscany's other classical reds including Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Carmignano. The growing reputation of table wines known as Super Tuscans as well as the astounding improvement of white wine has reinforced the new found reputation of this Central region. Chianti is the most widely sold of Italy's classified wines. Since being elevated to DOCG status in 1984, the quality has greatly improved while volume has diminished. Sangiovese is used to make all of the classified wines. Tuscany's whites include: Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Galestro.


Besides the world market for Orvieto, Umbrian wines are rarely exported. Orvieto has gone from a semi-sweet to a pure, crisp and delicate wine. The region is Italy's only land locked territory(Central). Another varietal of note is the red Torgiano. Umbrians also prize the Vin Santo dessert wine made from semi-dried grapes.


This tiniest of regions is tucked into Italy's mountainous Northwest corner against the borders of France and Switzerland. A regionwide DOC is Valle d'Aosta.


This region claims the city of Venice as its own. The Veneto is Italy's leader in the production of classified wine. Bardolino, Soave and Valpolicella are produced in the hills to the far West that basks in the sunny reflections of Lake Garda, the Central hills around Padua and the river basins along the Adriatic coast to the North and East of Venice. Valpolicella is made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. The same blend of grapes can be partially dried and made into the region's Amarone. Bardolino, located West of Valpolicella, uses the same grapes. Among Veneto's best whites are: Bianco di Custoza, Lugana, Pinot Grigio and Soave. Prosecco, the dry sparkling wine, is made here.

Winebow Inc. assisted in the preparation of this section.

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