What Are the Most Famous Italian Wines?

We all know that Italy is a country that is famous for its wines.

But which are the most famous Italian wines? Out of the many hundreds of types of wines to come out of Italy, which are considered by most to be the crème-de-la-crème?

These are the wines that draw admiring glances and easily find their way onto any restaurant’s wine list. They’re the wines that everybody knows at least a little bit about, even if they only know the name and have no idea what the wine tastes like.

They are the wines that make Italy the amazing wine-producing country that it is.

And in this article, we’re going to list them so you know what to try first if you’re brand new to the world of Italian wine.


There’s a good reason that this luscious red wine has been dubbed The King of Wines. Made using the famous Nebbiolo grape, Barolo has been around for centuries. And though it’s changed markedly during those centuries, there’s one thing that all Barolo wines have had in common – the link to nobility.

In its earlier days, Barolo was a sweet wine that was beloved by kings, queens, and nobles throughout Italy. Today, the wine is a more complex affair than it was in its original heyday. But it’s also the wine that gives us the best taste of what the Nebbiolo grape is all about. It’s such an important wine that wars have been fought about it. Not the blood and guts types of war, thankfully. Instead, Barolo has inspired fierce debate and disagreements for years because of its importance to the Italian wine industry.


Can any list of famous Italian wines be complete without Prosecco? Since the beginning of the 21st century, Prosecco has enjoyed a rapid ascent to the top of the global wine ladder. It is now one of the world’s most popular wines, with consumers in the US, UK, and many other countries catching up to what Italians had known for decades.

Is Prosecco better than Champagne?

That question is always going to be up for debate as there are plenty of stellar examples of both types of wine. What we can say is that Prosecco handily outsells Champagne, and has done for several years. If you want a taste of what Italian sparkling wines can offer, and you’re not a diehard fan of the traditional method used to make Champagne, Prosecco has likely found its way into your fridge at some point or another.


A perfect counterpart to Barolo, Chianti is the other famous Italian red that has existed in the country for centuries. Many who aren’t familiar with the world of Italian wine will still have heard of Chianti thanks to Hannibal Lecter’s iconic line about serving it with liver and some fava beans in The Silence of the Lambs. But for those who are less…cannibalistic…in nature, Chianti is a historic wine that highlights the qualities of the Sangiovese grape.

Much like Barolo, arguments raged over Chianti during the latter half of the 20th century. The rise of the Super Tuscans, with Tignanello and the Antinori family leading the charge, created an interesting divide between traditionalists and modernists. As Italian wine lovers, we’re just happy that we get so much variety out of a single type of grape. No matter which Chianti you choose, you’re guaranteed an enjoyable and tasty experience.


Lambrusco is an interesting case.

This Italian wine absolutely exploded in popularity during the 1980s. It seemed like the entire world fell in love with Lambrusco at the same time, resulting in producers rushing to produce huge volumes of the stuff to serve what seemed to be a never-ending demand.

Unfortunately, this high demand also proved to be Lambrusco’s undoing, at least for a while.

With producers so focused on volume, the quality of Lambrusco began to dip. Many started to see it as little more than a basic table wine, with many of the examples churned out during the 1990s being nowhere near the quality that had made the wine so popular in the first place. That trend has reversed as Lambrusco’s producers have refocused on quality over quantity. Though it’s had a tumultuous ride, Lambrusco is still one of the most famous Italian wines.


Made using Piedmont’s most common grape, this Italian red wine took a while to gain a reputation. For many years, producers saw it as little more than a grape that could be used in blends or as part of varietals. But in more recent years, some producers have started to see the potential that Barbera holds as a wine on its own.

Often enjoyed as a simple and rustic everyday wine, Barbera wines often feature high acidity and low tannins. This makes them ideal as introductory reds for people who haven’t experienced much of the Italian wine industry before. Of course, there are more complex versions of the wine as well. If you’re looking for something with a little more oomph, search for a Barbera that has been aged in oak barrels. These examples of the wine are typically more tannic.

Pinot Grigio

Beloved in Britain, Pinto Grigio may be the most popular Italian white wine. The grape is often considered the Italian version of Pinot Gris, though its popularity is such that it has overtaken the grape that inspired it. Pinot Grigio is often found in Italy’s northern regions and is used both as a blending grape and to create standalone wines.

Expect these wines to have light bodies and plenty of acidity, which makes them perfect for hot summer days. They also tend to have citrus overtones, with fruity undertones of apple and lime complementing the main bite.

Try Some Italian Wines

If you’re new to the world of Italian wine, consider this list a primer for the main types of wine you should explore. Each represents a different corner of the Italian wine industry, with each also acting as a perfect demonstration of what the country has to offer.

All that’s left is for you to get your hands on some of these wines. The good news is that you’ll find plenty of examples of each in the Xtrawine catalogue.


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