What’s in this article
I love traveling and trying out different wines.
No wonder, it is very reasonable for me to believe that Italy is a very nice place.
While I’ve enjoyed sampling vintages from around the world, there’s really nothing quite like the wine and culture of Italy.
As both a wine lover and an Italian, I may be biased – but there are so many reasons the country is one of my favorite places for an Italy wine tour.
From the delicious food (pizza and risottos are my weakness!), to amazingly impressive landscape of Italian villages surrounded by vineyards.
And of course, the long, rich history you find everywhere you look on an Italy wine tour.
But most of all, it has to be the wine.
Italy really is the home for Wine – you cannot move an inch without seeing generations-old vineyards whose roots are laden with history and tales.
You have the suitable wine moving from North to South.
Therefore, if you wish to enjoy an adrenaline-filled culinary escapade or cultural expedition, or indulge in the ultimate wine tourism experience, Italy is where it’s at.
You may also want to read this post on how to plan a trip to Italy.
Practical Tips For Planning Your Italy Wine Tour
It is truly thrilling to plan a wine trip in Italy!
Italy is indeed famous across the globe for great wines.
However, I am also aware that coming up with an itinerary is usually daunting as well initially.
Let me try to break it down into simple, manageable steps:
Book in Advance
First, think about what timing works best for your schedule.
Will you go during grape harvest season?
Or aim for spring or fall for mild weather?
Harvest season from late August to October offers the opportunity to see grapes being picked and pressed.
In early summers before the heat sets in or late in the fall when the summer crowds have left.
The winter may vary from one location to the other; it could either be a wet/mild season or dry.
Knowing your dates will help narrow down destinations.
Italy’s top wine regions like Tuscany and Piedmont attract many visitors during peak season.
The best wineries, guides and experiences may book up months ahead, so plan at least 3-6 months in advance if visiting spring through fall.
Craft an Itinerary
Next, start researching regions and what types of wine interest you most.
Do you love the bold reds of Tuscany?
Or maybe you’re interested in learning about the unique whites produced near Mount Etna in Sicily.
Specifying one region for your travels will enable you learn more about the regional wines that are produced, as well as the way of life of the people living there.
Once you have a region in mind, look up highly-rated wineries online, that is where you gets touring and tasting service.
Balance must-see wineries with flexibility for serendipitous discoveries.
Map out a route between 3-5 wineries, allowing time for tastings, purchases and relaxing over lunch.
Leave half days free for exploring charming towns or scenic drives between regions.
You should also look for accommodation for you that is close to the wineries, this will save you on long journeys every day.
Be sure to leave some flexibility in case you find a place you love and want to spend more time there.
Book Winery Visits
Many top producers will need a reservation several months ahead of time.
Be sure to have other options should the first ones be unavailable. Look at the official winery website about seasonal operation hours and tours.
And don’t forget to pair wine with local cuisine – it’s the perfect complement!
Pair wine with cooking classes, hiking or biking between vineyards, luxury villa stays, private helicopter wine tour, or hot air ballooning over the vineyards at sunrise. Cultural activities like art tours or cooking demonstrations add more local flavor.
And set a budget so you can enjoy yourself without going overboard.
If planning all the logistics seems like a lot, don’t worry – there are also excellent guided wine tours available that take care of everything for you.
Unveiling The Top Wine Regions In Italy
Italy is synonymous with wine.
Being among some of the biggest wine producers in the world, Italy provides one of the most vibrant and enjoyable experiences for a wine lover.
Each Italian wine region possesses different terroirs, various grape varieties and individual approaches of wine production.
Let us venture into part of Italy’s unique wines.
Tuscany – Sangiovese and Super Tuscans
Visiting Tuscany remains as one of the best journeys through Italian wine.
The rolling landscape of this central Italian province enjoys worldwide reputation as home of Tuscan sangiovese wines.
The most popular Italian grapes are Sangiovese which find their best expression in Tuscany.
Sangiovese produces the bold earthy red wine of Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile of Montepulciano. However, Tuscan has also been popular with these Super Tuscan blends that have had non native grapes like the Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot among others.
For instance, Sassicaia, Tignanello, and Ornellaia are popular super Tuscans top.
These luxurious wines demand astronomical bids in auctions as well as in restaurants found across the globe.
Piedmont – Nebbiolo and Barolo
Piedmont is found in Italy’s northwest and arguably carries Italy’s best red wine grape, Nebbiolo.
Nebbiolo varieties make light colored wines marked with sweet scent of roses, thistles and leather as well as robust tannins which bind your jaw.
They also open up over time and are age worthy wines.
Piedmont’s most renowned Nebbiolo based wines include Barolo and Barbaresco, which are characterized by their complexity and structure.
Though Barolo is heavier with tannins, Barbaresco offers a lighter, sweeter taste such as cherries and spices.
Some of the other good Piedmont wines worth trying include the juicy and acidic, Barbera wine and the lightly sparkling and honeyed Moscato d’Asti.
Veneto – Amarone and Prosecco
Northeastern Veneto excels with both sparkling and still wines.
The iconic wine of the region is Amarone della Valpolicella.
Made from partially dried Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes, Amarone is a full-bodied, intensely flavored red with raisin, fig, and chocolate notes.
The drying process concentrates sugars and flavors in the grapes. For a fresher style, look for regular Valpolicella or Ripasso. Prosecco, produced just north of Venice, is Italy’s answer to Champagne.
This bubbly, dry white wine is made from the Glera grape in a tank method.
With peach and almond flavors and a palate-cleansing acidity, Prosecco is fun, food-friendly, and budget-friendly too.
Keep an eye out for the premium single-vineyard Conegliano Valdobbiadene Proseccos.
Sicily – Nero d’Avola and Mount Etna Wines
As an island off Italy’s southern coast, Sicily has a climate all its own.
The sun-drenched conditions here are perfect for full-bodied red wines.
Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s signature grape.
Grown throughout the island, it makes robust, tannic wines with black cherry flavors.
Sicily is also home to Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano. The volcanic soils surrounding Etna yield minerally, complex reds and whites.
Etna Rosso made from Nerello Mascalese is Etna’s top red.
White Carricante, also grown here, excels in mineral-driven Etna Bianco.
With its warm climate, Sicily also shows promise with international grapes like Syrah and Cabernet.
Food and Wine Pairing
One of the joys of Italian wines is how well they pair with food. Tuscany’s Chianti is a classic match with pasta dishes, pizza, and Parmesan cheese.
Piedmont’s Barolo loves meaty, savory flavors like short ribs, filet mignon, and risotto with truffles.
Amarone‘s dried fruit profile works beautifully with hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Bright, acidic Prosecco cuts through fried foods and aperitivo.
And fruit-forward Sicilian reds complement tomato-based, herby dishes.
When matching Italian wines with food, remember that acidity helps wines pair well with savory dishes.
Bold, tannic reds need fat and protein to soften their edges.
Lighter reds and whites work with lighter meats or before heavier courses.
Bubbly and rosé are flexible options too.
By keeping these tips in mind, you’re sure to find great Italian wine and food combinations.
Must try Italian wines
When tasting wines at wineries in Italy, be adventurous!
Italy has hundreds of native grape varieties beyond the commonly known ones.
Always ask for the tasting room manager’s recommendation to try something unique and memorable
Here are some of my favorite must-try Italian wines to seek out on your journey:
Brunello di Montalcino – This prestigious Tuscan red is made entirely from Sangiovese grapes grown around Montalcino. It’s known for its intense cherry, leather, and herbal flavors as well as high acidity and tannins.
Barbaresco – Hailing from Piedmont, Barbaresco is an elegant, complex wine based on the Nebbiolo grape. Although not as tannic and long-lived as its sibling Barolo, Barbaresco excels with its floral, red fruit notes and ability to pair with a wide range of foods.
Amarone della Valpolicella – This specialty of Veneto is Italy’s richest, most full-bodied red made from partially dried grapes. Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara are used to create a plush texture with intense raisin, fig and chocolate flavors. Top Amarone houses include Tommaso Bussola, Zenato, and Allegrini.
Etna Rosso – Volcanic slopes on Mount Etna yield incredibly complex reds based on Nerello Mascalese. With its bright acidity, earthy minerality, and red fruit notes, Etna Rosso is easy to pair yet also suitable for aging.
Chianti Classico – No trip to Tuscany is complete without sampling Sangiovese in its historic Chianti Classico heartland.
Top Italy wine tour
Here are some top wine tours in Italy for true wine lovers to consider:
Tuscany Wine Tour
Tuscany is a mecca for wine lovers.
Base yourself in Florence and do day trips to Chianti, Montalcino, and Montepulciano to taste iconic wines like Chianti Classico, Brunello, and Vino Nobile.
Pair tastings with visits to medieval villages and winery lunches overlooking vineyards.
I’ve got a great place to recommend if you’re looking to try Chianti wines and delicious food – Tenuta Castello di Albola.
It’s located in a tiny medieval village atop the gorgeous Chianti hills, in one of the best spots among the highest elevations in Chianti Classico, Radda in Chianti.
Within the estate grounds there are two beautiful villas perfect for an unforgettable Tuscan getaway.
Villa Le Marangole from the 1700s is considered by many to be the most beautiful house in Chianti. It’s quite stately!
The smaller and more intimate Villa Crognole from the 1400s is totally surrounded by woods. It has an exclusive pool and panoramic terrace with absolutely breathtaking views across the unique Chianti Classico countryside.
I think you’d love staying there!
Piedmont Wine Tour
Explore the langhe wine region near Alba, known for Barolo, Barbaresco and truffles.
Visit the vineyards, taste wines straight from the barrel, and indulge in Michelin-starred regional cuisine.
Don’t miss noble vineyards like Cannubi and Serralunga d’Alba.
Veneto Prosecco and Amarone Tour
From Venice, head to Prosecco country in Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.
Tour prosecco wineries and sample lively sparkling wines.
Continue to Verona and the Valpolicella zone to taste rich Amarone at historic estates.
Sicily Wine Tour
Tour Sicily’s diverse wine regions from Etna’s volcanic slopes to western Marsala.
Taste Nero d’Avola, frappato, grillo and other native grapes.
Top wineries to visit include Planeta, Tasca d’Almerita, and Donnafugata.
Learn about Sicily’s ancient wine history too.
Abruzzo Food and Wine Tour
Visit Abruzzo to discover up and coming Montepulciano d’Abruzzo paired with fresh seafood.
Experience family-run wineries passed down for generations.
Tour medieval hilltop villages between tastings for a slice of authentic Italy.
These tours allow wine aficionados to dive deep into Italy’s top wine regions.
Having a knowledgeable local guide opens doors at prestigious wineries and access to rare wines not found elsewhere.
Italy truly is a wine lover’s paradise, with so many amazing regions to explore, it’s hard to pick just one favorite!
These eight destinations are such a great starting point for an itinerary – there really is something for everyone.
I could easily spend a year hopping between Franciacorta, Valpolicella, Val d’Orcia and more and still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.
The variety of landscapes, cultures and wine styles on offer is incredible.
And can we talk about how affordable Italian wine can be? Especially if you do lots of tastings direct at the wineries.
It’s such a treat to sample top producers’ wines without breaking the bank.
The passion and pride the families put into their craft really comes through.
If I had to choose a top region, I think I’d have to go with Tuscany. Walking through vineyards with the rolling hills as far as the eye can see – it really takes my breath away.
And of course, the bold reds like Brunello are just to die for.
But it changes all the time!
Everywhere I visit, I fall for something new.
Let me know which destination piques your interest the most – I’d love to share some specific recommendations to help you start planning.
You really can’t go wrong with an Italian wine tour.
Salute! (That’s “Cheers!” in Italian)
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that I will earn a small commission if you use these links at absolutely no cost to you! This will help me be able to continue to run Italia Like A Local. Thank you so much for your support!