There’s a high chance that your favorite wine is made in Italy. In fact, Italy is the largest producer of wine in the world, home to over 702,000 hectares of cultivated land and surpassing more prominent countries like France and Spain. If you’re planning a holiday and love wine and food, it’s time to treat yourself to a luxury wine tour in Italy.
Top destinations for your wine tour in Italy
You may be wondering: How is Italy able to produce almost 50 million hectoliters of wine each year, despite being much smaller than other major wine countries like France and Spain? The Italians have a secret: There are wine producers in all 20 regions of Italy.
Not to mention, Italy has a very deep history of winemaking. Even before the Romans arrived on the peninsula, Etruscan and Greek settlers were already perfecting the drink. Now, you’ll find that each region has its own specialty and techniques, with these areas leading the pack:
Lombardy produces around 1.5 million hectoliters of wine each year. Although the northern Italian region also makes luscious reds, Lombardy is best known for its sparkling wines, rosés, and whites.
What’s more, is that Lombardy is not for your average tourist. Unlike most of its neighbors, this region is less frequently visited, typically attracting more serious wine drinkers.
Here are some of Lombardy’s must-try wines:
- Valtellina Superiore
Made from Nebbiolo grapes, this fine red wine hails from the Valtellina Valley. Many sommeliers describe it as light and earthy, with hints of roses, tar, and dried cherries, making it a favorite among wine experts.
What’s a trip to Lombardy without a taste of its famous sparkling wine? The Franciacorta is a delightful mixture of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc, resulting in a fruity, fresh, and elegant taste that gives it its DOCG status.
Do you prefer a glass of white? Then, Lombardy’s Lugana is for you. Made with Trebbiano grapes, this classy white wine is for those who love acidity and hints of citrus, marzipan, and honey.
Do you enjoy your wine with a scenic view of the mountainside? There’s no better place to go than Piedmont. This region is located in northwest Italy and is one of the country’s agricultural treasures. It not only produces some of the finest wines in Italy but also cultivates rice, maize, fruit, and milk.
Piedmont is a much bigger wine producer than Lombardy, accounting for 2 million hectoliters of Italy’s annual numbers. Its most famous wines include:
What better way to spend your wine tour in Italy than by tasting the King of Wine? Barolo owes its nickname to its slow evolution time and low grape yield, requiring up to 38 months of aging.
Barolo is famous for its vibrant red color and is heavily characterized by a soft and salty taste that pairs perfectly with red meat, truffles, and a variety of mature cheeses.
Italians are very particular when it comes to the quality of their wine. For instance, the Dolcetto from Piedmont is strictly made with 100% Dolcetto grapes, a variety that matures relatively fast. Because of this, their berries have a high sugar concentration, and the name Dolcetto literally means “quite sweet.”
Upon opening a bottle of Dolcetto, you’ll immediately notice a fruity scent with strong notes of cherries. And once you have a taste, you’ll realize that it is dry and warm with high salinity.
It’s impossible to talk about Italian wine without mentioning Tuscany. This central Italian region is home to the famous wine towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino, along with gorgeous hilltop villages like San Gimignano. As a result, Tuscany is not only known as a wine region but also a widely loved tourist spot.
But if you’re visiting Tuscany for its wine, make sure to have a glass or two of these varieties:
- Brunello di Montalcino
Produced in the hills of Tuscany, the Brunello di Montalcino is exclusively made with Sangiovese grapes. This ruby red wine has notes of tobacco, blackberry, and leather, making it the perfect pair for Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a Tuscan special.
- Chianti Classico
Unlike the Brunello di Montalcino, the Chianti Classico is only made of 80% Sangiovese grapes. However, this doesn’t mean it’s inferior in any way. Chianti Classico is still produced with completely native varieties, resulting in a gorgeous red wine with hints of cherry and violet, and it pairs with everything from pasta dishes to red meat.
The last region on this list also happens to be Italy’s biggest producer of wine. Veneto accounts for more than 10 million hectoliters of the country’s annual production, owing its numbers to its unique geography. The region is heavily protected by the Alps, keeping its vineyards safe and cool.
There’s no lack of wines to try in Veneto, but if you’re only looking for a handpicked few, here are some top recommendations:
According to wine experts, Valpolicella is the most important Venetian subregion when it comes to red wine, and they’re not wrong. Valpolicella is a wonderful blend of local varieties, including Corvina, Corvinone, Molinara, and Rondinella. This results in a charming wine that is both light and fruity, featuring very little tannins and a lot of sweetness.
Soave is the Valpolicella of Venetian white wines. Home to the Garganega grape, this subregion produces a delicious blend of Trebbiano and Garganega that is very easy to drink. It has a well-balanced acidity that doesn’t overwhelm your palate, making it the perfect summer drink.
- Colli Berici
If you’re looking for variety, Colli Berici won’t disappoint. This subregion has everything from red and white and even rosé wine. For instance, Oratorio di San Lorenzo is a delectable red wine made with Carmenere grapes of the highest quality. Meanwhile, Campo del Lago is a locally produced Merlot for wine lovers on a tight budget.
There are numerous other wine regions to explore in Italy, including Umbria, Sicily, Rome, and Puglia. Of course, it would be nearly impossible to visit all of these places at once, so consider booking a wine tour in Italy within your chosen destination. Top tour operators in the country offer luxury packages for excellent prices.