Can You Make Italian Wine Using Black Grapes?

At its core, Italian wine seems pretty simple.

To make red wine, the producer uses red grapes. To make white, they use white grapes. Of course, we all know it’s a little more complicated than that. There are myriad variations of production methods used to make different types of wines. That’s why no two reds will ever taste the same. It’s not just the grape that matters. It’s everything, from the terroir to the specific family of grape, right through to the methods the producer uses to make their wine.

Still, the red and white thing seems pretty much cut and dry.

Except it isn’t.

There are several types of grapes beyond the standard red and white used for wine.

You’re likely familiar with green grapes, which are often eaten rather than made into wine. These grapes have thin skins and aren’t quite as intense as wine grapes, making them more pleasing to eat.

And then, there are black grapes.

So, let’s follow our logic here.

If red grapes make red wine…

And white grapes make white wine…

What do black grapes make?

As it happens, they don’t make black wine. In fact, black grapes can also be used to make white wine, as you’re going to find out in this article.

How Does That Work?

It doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it? Everything we know about red wine grapes tells us that darker grapes create a darker complexion for the wine.

But black grapes aren’t the same as red grapes.

With red grapes, the juices inside are also red, or at least have a reddish tinge. Combine that juice colouring with a production method that makes use of almost every aspect of the grape and you get the red wines that we all know and love.

Black grapes don’t have black juices.

Instead, their juices run completely clear. As a result, black grapes look a little like red grapes but are actually closer in structure to white grapes. Think of them as white grapes wearing an overcoat. What they look like on the outside doesn’t change what’s going on inside them.

We also have to consider the production methods used here.

Even with their clear juices, black grapes could be used to make coloured wines if the producer opted to use all aspects of the grape in production. That would mean grinding up the skin and all of the internals to mix them with the juices, thus creating a deeper colour. In these cases, you’d get a wine with a black hue, though it wouldn’t be jet black.

So, why don’t producers do this?

Think about every black liquid that comes to your mind. There aren’t many and most of them don’t look especially appetizing. Even those that have “black” in their name, such as blackcurrant, tend to produce drinks that are a little closer to red than black.

Producers don’t want to create black wines because black isn’t the most appetizing colour. In fact, research suggests that both children and adults find black foods off-putting, likely because we associate blackness with burning in our foods. These same colour perceptions influence our thinking when it comes to the liquids we drink. A black wine would put you off immediately just because it doesn’t look like a wine is supposed to look. So, producers tend to use black grapes to make white wine.

Are Any Black Grapes Used to Make White Wine?

They are.

In fact, there’s a particularly popular black grape that’s used as part of several Italian white wines.

We are, of course, talking about Pinot Noir.

Also known as Pinot Blanc and Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir is one of the world’s oldest grapes. Interestingly, Pinot Noir is also related to the famous Chardonnay grape, which is used to make Champagne. As such, Pinot Noir is often used as part of the blend for sparkling wines, though it’s rarely used on its own.

And that fact pretty much sums up Pinot Noir’s place, as well as the place of many other black grapes, in the Italian wine world. They are predominantly used as blending grapes, with their unique flavours helping to bring out the best in the more popular white wine grapes that they’re combined with.

This isn’t to say that there are no 100% black grape wines. Some producers have tried their hands at making 100% Pinot Noir, for example. However, these types of wines are scarce when compared to the many that use black grapes as part of their blends.

Black Grapes Also Offer Health Benefits

Though black grapes are closer to white grapes in terms of how they’re used when creating wines, they offer many of the same health benefits as red grapes. Studies have shown that black grapes improve heart health, help with vision, and can even provide some protection against cancer. Black grapes also promote healthy hair, boost the immune system, and improve brain function.


Just like red wine grapes, black grapes are full of plant-based antioxidants. Resveratrol and riboflavin are the two most prominent, as well as being the two that are most closely related to the heart and brain-boosting aspects of the grapes. However, black grapes also contain zeaxanthin and lutein, which are carotenoids that help the body to maintain good eyesight.

Of course, many of these things are in regular white wine grapes as well. However, black grapes contain them in higher concentrations, which makes them similar to red grapes in terms of how they affect the body.

Find a Great Italian Wine Today

If you start searching for Italian black wine, you’re going to come up short. Even the wines made using 100% black grapes tend to be white.

However, if you search for wines that contain black grapes in their blend, you’ll end up with a lot more results. Any wine that contains Pinot Noir, for example, is a wine that uses black grapes.

Of course, you can find many of those types of wines, alongside more traditional red, white, and sparkling wines, in the Xtrawine collection.


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