Cuisine · Culture · Destinations
December 22, 2020 Words: Stephen Milioti

The Best Wine Regions in Italy

Unforgettably toast-worthy locales in a country that oenophiles adore


To say that Italy is known for its wine is an understatement; it’s downright revered for it. But as singularly associated as the country is with wine, it’s also known for its incredible diversity of varietals (just see the “Italy” list of any wine menu as evidence). That’s because there are around 350 types of grapes in the country — each possessing different properties, personalities, and flavor profiles. Here’s a breakdown of the most prolific wine regions, and a sampling of what they offer. Whether you’re cruising the Italian coast or exploring Italy’s famous cities on foot, here’s what to look for (and sip) in some of the country’s most- acclaimed wine regions.

The Piedmont (Piemonte) region, which includes the city of Torino, is home to some of the most celebrated wines of Italy. Bold, full-bodied red wines are the stars here, and while Barolo is arguably the most famous, Nebbiolo and Barbaresco are also wonderful options to enjoy with a hearty dinner. Despite the first-rate reds, don’t overlook some of the more whimsical white options the region offers — like sweet Moscato (perfect with dessert) or sparkling Asti.

Home to Florence, Siena, and other historically rich cities, this verdant region boasts hundreds of wineries that specialize in world-famous red wines made from Sangiovese grapes: from dry, tart Chianti (a mainstay table wine in small family-owned Italian restaurants in the region and beyond) to Brunello di Montalcino, made in limited quantities and prized for its earthy, complex taste.

Veneto is a heavily visited region by travelers of all types, many looking to see the region’s most storied canals of Venice, the region’s most well-known city. But after you see those, do not leave without toasting your well-deserved vacation with a glass of Prosecco. The sparkling wine enjoyed worldwide originates here (evidenced on the Strada del Prosecco road, which is dotted with Prosecco wineries left and right).

The Puglia region, in southeastern Italy, is loved for the buttery, flavorful olive oil its residents have made for generations. But it’s also one of the most popular wine-producing regions in the country, thanks to its sunny, warm climate: the perfect environment for the area’s grapes to thrive in. The result is a full complement of red wine varieties — from dry, refreshing Primitivo (made from its namesake grape, common in the region) to velvety, deep-ruby-red Salice Salentino (from the Negroamaro grape, also native to the area).

This north-central Italian region is known for its Lambrusco, a light, sparkling red wine that is delicious on its own — but best served as a perfect counterpoint to the rich cured meats (like prosciutto and salami) and famous Parmigiano Reggiano cheese the area is also heralded for. Most Lambrusco is produced in the city of Modena.

When it comes to wine to write home about, do not overlook this southern Italian island off the “toe” of the boot-shaped country. The relatively dry, sunny climate allows the island’s ubiquitous Nero d’Avola grape to proliferate, resulting in its namesake wine. And the mineral-packed soil around Mt. Etna produces grapes that result in stunningly complex wines (like vibrant dark-red Nerello Mascalese).

Now that you’ve gotten the rundown on the best regional Italian wines, what better way to enjoy them than from your private veranda on one of Seabourn’s Mediterranean voyages?

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