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Italian Red Grape Varieties in your glass - Drink Italian

Red Varieties

Indigenous Italian Red Grape Varieties

Aglianico: The noble red grape of the South! There are 3 major biotypes: Taurasi and Taburno found in Campania, and del Vulture found in Basilicata.

Aleatico: an aromatic grape of Central Italy. It is mainly cultivated in Tuscany and it is an offspring of Moscato Bianco and possibly related to Sangiovese.

Barbera: it is among the most planted Italian red grape varieties. It is mainly grown in Piedmont, but found also in Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, and Sardinia.

Bombino Nero: It is a grape from Puglia. Its name doesn’t come from bomb, actually its origin is much nicer: it comes from the word bambino as its bunches resemble like an enfant.

Bovale Sardo: It is found in Sardinia and it is planted mainly in the South, around Cagliari.

Brachetto: It is an ancient aromatic grape from Piedmont. It is mostly known in sparkling wines and it has a passito version too.

Cagnulari: It is a grape from Sardinia. It looks similar to Bovale Sardo but they are not identical. It grows around the city of Sassari in the North-East of the island.

Calabrese: It is the most important red grape variety in Sicily, commonly called Nero d’Avola. The name translates as Black from Avola, which is a small town next to Siracusa.

Canaiolo Nero: It is a Tuscan grape and it used to be the main component of the Chianti in the sixteenth century. Now it can be still part of the blend but the protagonist role went to Sangiovese.

Cannonau: It is THE red variety of Sardinia. It is identical of the French Grenache and the Spanish Guarnacha, but it seems like the origin is actually from Italy.

Carignano: It is found mainly in the South of Sardinia. It may have been brought in the island by the Spaniard who reigned there for centuries.

Casetta: It is a grape that grows close to the river Adige crossing the two region of Trentino and Veneto.

Cesanese: It is a grape found in Lazio. Cesano is a town outside Rome that gives the name to this variety. There are 2 well known variety: Cesanese Comune and Cesanese d’Affile.

Chiavennasca: It is the name of Nebbiolo in Valtellina.

Ciliegiolo: It is a grape associated mostly with Tuscany but it is planted also in Lazio, Puglia, Umbria and Liguria. The name means “small cherry” not only for the shape of the berries but also for the aroma of cherries in the wine.

Colorino: It is a grape used in the most important Tuscan blends (Chianti, Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, etc). As the name tells, it gives color to the wine and this helps a lot the Sangiovese as it is not so colorful.

Cornalin: It is a grape cultivated in Valle d’Aosta. It is very tannic and it needs some aging to show its potential. It has smoky and spicy aromas and flavors.

Cornetta: It is found in Umbria and its names comes from horn (corno in Italian) for the shape of the bunches.

Corvina: It is the grape of Valpolicella and it is the main variety in the Amarone wine. The name derives from raven which is corvo in Italian.

Corvinone: It is found in Valpolicella and it is the typical blending partner of Corvina. The name sounds actually like “Big Corvina”.

Croatina: It is a grape mainly found in Lombardy and Piedmont. It is sometimes called also Bornarda which is actually confusing as Bonarda is a separate grape. It is present also in Emilia Romagna, Veneto, and Sardinia.

Dolcetto/Ormeasco: This grape is called Dolcetto in Piedmont and Ormeasco in Liguria. The name comes from the sweetness of the grape, however the wine, which is also called Dolcetto is always dry.

Enantio: It is a grape that grows close to the river Adige crossing the two region of Trentino and Veneto. In that area it is often refered as Lambrusco a Foglia Frastagliata.

Frappato: It is one of Sicily’s oldest varieties. It adapts well to hot and dry conditions and it gives the best expression in red sandy-calcareous soil.

Freisa: It grows in Piedmont and it was once a very fashionable grape. Now it lost some popularity. The name comes from the Latin Freisa, meaning strawberry due to its strawberry-like aromas.

Fumin: It is the most cultivated grape in the Central part of Valle d’Aosta. The name derives from smoke/ash (fumo in Italian).

Gamba Rossa: It is a red grape found in Piedmont in the Asti area. It is used in the Calosso DOC wine.

Gaglioppo: It is found in Calabria and it is an ancient grape which dated back the the Greeks. Gaglioppo in greek means “beautiful feet.

Grignolino: It is a grape from Piedmont. The name derives from grigole which means grimace in Piedmontese.

Groppello: It is actually a group of grape variety that share the same characteristic of extremely compact bunches.

Lacrima: It is found in Marche. It was almost lost but it was brought back to life in the recent years. Lacrima means tears in Italian.

Lagrein: It is a grape from Alto Adige. It is related to Teroldego and possibly to Marzemino.

Lambrusco: It is probably one of the oldest family of grapes in Italy. There are 6 members of the family: the most important ones are Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa, and Lambrusco Salamino.

Mammolo: It is found in Tuscany and it is often blended with Sangiovese. Mammola is the name of the violet flavor in Italian.

Magliocco: It is cultivated in Calabria. There is actually 2 types of Magliocco: Dolce/Tondo, and Canino.

Malvasia di Casorzo: It is found in Piedmont in the Casorzo d’Asti area. It is probably the most frangant Malvasia thanks to its thick skin and the pulp rich in geraniol (an aromatic molecule).

Malvasia di Schierano: Also from Piedmont, this aromatic red grape is mostly used for making sweet wines. 

Malvasia Nera: The name is used for 2 grapes that are thought to be identical: Malvasia Nera di Brindisi and Malvasia Nera di Lecce. Now studies show that they are different.

Marzemino: It is present in Trentino. It is an offspring of Teroldego and a parent of Marzemina Bianca and Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso.

Mayolet: It is cultivated in Valle d’Aosta on both side of the Dora Baltea River in high altitude vineyards up to 800 mts above sea level.

Molinara: It is found in Valpolicella and it can be part of the Amarone blend. The name comes from mulino which is windmill in Italian.

Monica: It is found in Sardinia and it gives easy-drinking, yet interesting perfumed wines. It is the third most planted variety in the island.

Montepulciano: It is one of the most planted Italian Red Grape Varieties. 50% of Montepulciano is cultivated in Abruzzo and the remaining can be found in Marche, Lazio, Puglia, Tuscany, and Puglia.

Moscato di Scanzo: It is an aromatic grape just available in a limited area in the hills around Bergamo in Lombardy. It is only used for sweet wines.

Moscato Rosa: Wines from Moscato Rosa can be produced in Alto Adige, Trentino, Friuli Venezia Giulia and they are usually sweet from passito (dried) grapes, even if a slightly less sweet wines can be made with late harvested grapes.

Nebbiolo: It is considered one of the greatest Italian red grape varieties. Its name comes probably from the word Nebbia, fog in Italian. Everybody knows that Nebbiolo grows in Piedmont, it actually grows also in other region but it is also given different names. The most important synonyms are Chiavennasca in Lombardy, Picotener or Picotendro in Valle d’Aosta. It is also called Spanna around Novara and Vercelli in Piedmont.

Nebbiolo Rose’: It is found in Piedmont and it is distinct variety than Nebbiolo. It is used in the blend together and its addition is in perfume (rose petals) more than the color.

Negro Amaro: This grape is associated with Puglia, even if there are some small plantings in Basilicata and Campania. The word negro means black, while Amaro can stand for Bitter or, as a second origin theory, can come from the Greek word “Mavros” which means black again. So it can either be translated as Black Bitter or Black Black. One thing is sure: the color of its wine is very dark.

Nerello Cappuccio: It is found in Sicily in the Etna area. It is less widespread than Nerello Mascalese and they are usually blend together in the Etna DOC Rosso.

Nerello Mascalese: It is present on the Etna Volcano and it is named after the Mascali plain in the Northeast of Catania. There are many biotypes as it has high intravarietal variability.

Nero Buono: It is a grape from Lazio and it is part of the Cori DOC and the Castelli Romani DOC.

Nero d’Avola: Please see Calabrese which is the name of Nero d’Avola in the official National Registry.

Nocera: It found around Messina in Sicily in the angle of the island close to the Calabria. It was important in the past as it was part of the blend of Faro DOC.

Pallagrello Nero: it is cultivated in Campania, before in the whole region but nowadays it is limited to the province of Caserta. The bunch is very compact.

Pelaverga: It is a grape from Piedmont. There are actually 2 unrelated varieties with this name: Pelaverga Piccolo grown exclusively around the town of Verduno (which is also the DOC name) and Pelaverga Grosso which is located in the countryside around Torino (Saluzzo and Chieri).

Perricone: It is present in Sicily and it is used to make ruby Marsala. Some monovarietal wine, even rare, are now produced.

Petit Rouge: It grows in Valle d’Aosta and it is the primary grape of the Torrette subzone.

Picontener/Picotendro: This is the name given to Nebbiolo in Valle d’Aosta.

Piedirosso: it is grape from Campania, around the city of Naples. The name derives make reference to its red stalks, which resemble the “red feet” of the vine.

Pignolo: It is one of the most tannic Italian red grape varieties. It is associated with Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Prié Rouge: It is cultivated in Valle d’Aosta where it is actually called Prëmetta. Prima means “before/early” in Italian so that names is related to the fact that this grape ripens early.

Primitivo: One of the most famous grape from Puglia, very well known also outside Italy as Primitivo is the same as Zinfandel in California. Primitivo refers to the early ripening, as a matter of fact it is one of the first grape to be picked up in Italy.

Raboso: It is cultivated in Veneto. The name could come from rabbioso, meaning angry, due to its harsh tannin and high acid. It is called Friularo because it was thought to be originated in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso: It is a very well known grape from Friuli Venezia Giulia. Peduncolo Rosso is the “red stalk” as it indeed turns red when fully ripe.

Rondinella: It is a grape used in the Valpolicella blend and it is found in Verona, in Veneto. Rodine is swallow in Italian: so the name refers either to the this bird’s plumage or the fact that this bird like to feed on Rondinella when it is ripe.

Rossese: It grows in Liguria on steep mountainside vineyards above the sea. The most famous biotype is Rossese di Dolceacqua.

Ruché: It is an aromatic grape found in the Monferrato area in Piedmont.

Sagrantino: It is THE grape of Umbria. Strangely enough, when the DOC was created, it was used for sweet, passito style wines. Nowadays the Sagrantino is also used for dry wines of great longevity. Sagratino is a very tannic variety.

Sangiovese: it’s the king of the Italian red grape varieties. Definitely the most planted one. It is famous mainly for the Tuscan wines but the Emilia Romagna version is also well known. However, Sangiovese is found in every region in Italy except Valle d’Aosta and Trentino-Alto Adige.

Schiava: It is associated with Trentino and Alto Adige. The most popular clone is Schiava Grossa which gives rich age-worthy wines.

Schioppettino: It is grown in Friuli Venezia Giulia. It was almost extinct and brought back to life thanks to a passionate producers. Scoppiettare means “to explode” in Italian and it refers either to the explosion of flavor or the bottles that were literally exploding in the past due to the wine refermentation.

Susumaniello: It is a grape from Puglia, mainly in the countryside around Bari and Brindisi and it blends usually with Negro Amaro.

Tazzelenghe: It grows in Friuli Venezia Giulia but it is rare and in risk of “extinction”. Its acidity and tannins are so high that the name actually means “cut the tongue”.

Teroldego: It is one of the most famous grape in Trentino. It is the parent of Lagrein and Marzemino. It is known for its deep color.

Tintilia: It is THE grape of Molise. Its vine was brought in probably during the Spanish domination. Its name could come from “Tinto”, meaning “red” in Spanish.

Uva di Troia: it is found in the Northern part of Puglia. It is medium intensity in color but it is also used for the production of Rosato wines.

Uva Rara: It is found mainly in Oltrepò Pavese in Lombardy and in the North of Piedmont in the Novara and Vercelli provinces. Rara means rare in Italian and it refers to the sparse bunch, which makes this grape suitable for air-drying.

Vernaccia Nera: It grows in Marche and Umbria. Even if in the past it was more popular and widespread, it is still known for the Vernaccia di Serrapetrona DOCG which is a botte fermented sparkling wine made from at least 40% of air-dried grapes.

Vespolina: It is a grape in Piedmont, it is also called Ughetta and Uvetta di Canneto.

Vuillermin: It is a grape from Valle d’Aosta.