Confused about Italian wine labels? If so, you are not alone. Understanding wine labels on Italian wines can be quite a challenge.
Keep reading to get tips on how to understand the Italian wine label, Italian wine classification and what key information to look for or to avoid on the label.
Italian wines are labeled in different ways. Some are labeled by the grape variety (eg, Sangiovese), some by the wine-making district or village (eg, Chianti), some have proprietary names invented by the particular vineyard, and some have an indicator of the wine classification levels below (DOC, DOCG or IGT).
In Italy, wines are labeled according to a classification system that roughly indicates the quality of the wine (like the French appellations or AOC which you can read more about in this article on the French wine label label).
There are three main Italian wine classifications:
Italian wine labels will sometimes indicate the grape varietal. However, the names may not be familiar ones if you do not already know Italian wine, due to the unique climates in Italian wine regions. For example, you may see Sangiovese (used to make Italian Chianti), Nebbiolo (used in Barolo and Barbaresco), Barbera, or Dolcetto on red wines, or Pinot Grigio on white.
Italian wine labels may also indicate the wine region where the wine was produced. For example, Chianti is produced in the Chianti area in the Tuscany region of Italy. For more information on Italian wine regions, take a look at our article on Italian wine. Finally, it may be helpful to understand some of the Italian words that you might find on Italian wine labels: