What are the most popular Italian wines? And popular Italian wines in which way? There isn’t a single and straight forward answer, it all depends.
The most popular Italian wines, abroad, are possibly the likes of Brunello di Montalcino
, recently joined by the Prosecco
which are some of the most expensive wines and with the longer history, but popularity changes, popularity is seasonal, there are new trends and wines joining them every season, and for most of them, the popularity lasts just one season. Italy produces thousands of wines.
For Italian wines, and when I say wines, I mean appellations, it is not the individual wine made by a specific producers that becomes popular, but the whole appellation or grape/wine, eg primitivo, that includes hundreds or thousands of producers, check our DOC
Italian wine maps to understand the size of the Italian wine industry. Very rarely a specific wine becomes popular, simply because of the enormous resources required to stand out in a crowded market made of wines from all over the world.
For the more educated and knowledgeable wine drinkers, there are differences between producers, and every appellation has a list of producers considered to be the best in their wine region, a list that changes regularly because of new producers or wine making discoveries. Wine evolves and trends change.
These are the appellations, but there are also individual wines that are admired and very popular, perhaps the most famous are the Sassicaia and Tignanello, both red wines from Tuscany, both now classified as Supertuscany
and considered amongst the best wines in the world, not just Italian. They are popular because they were probably the first Italian wines trying to pursue quality independently of the appellation when they were first created. I would say that both producers were visionary and instead of making an easy to sell wine, devoted their resources in making great wines. Italian viticulture has since changed and now the majority of producers pursue quality over saleability.
Popular is a very floating adjective and at the moment, the most popular Italian wines together with the four mentioned above, are Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Primitivo, Pinot Grigio e Nero d’Avola mainly because of the number of bottles made. In the early ’80 the most popular Italian wines were Frascati, Soave, Chianti and Lambrusco, some of the first Italian appellations. In the 80’ there was the belief that DOC and DOCG were better wines, wines that have mostly seen their sales collapsing due to too many poor quality wines sold. Chianti and Soave are only two that despite having made the error, have been working hard to improve their reputation and the results are yet to come.
There are also grapes widely planted in Italy and used in many wines, the classic example is the Sangiovese, planted almost everywhere in Central Italy and used in numerous wines, that is a very popular grape and for many also a very popular wine. Other grapes include Barbera, widely grown in the North West of Italy and also considered a popular Italian wine or Primitivo, an Apulian wine currently widely appreciated. like all Apulian wines.
For Italians and Italy, the situation changes significantly. In Italy, due to the thousands of grapes, hundreds of appellations and thousand of winemakers, the tendency is to drink locally made wines, which are also the most popular, that pair perfectly the local food. For example, in Abruzzo, locals drink plenty of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and the other local grape varieties and very little Pinot Grigio or Prosecco, only visitors will ask for it and shops and restaurants will be offering Montepulciano wine from dozens of producers and only one Pinot Grigio or Prosecco.