How to Read the Grape Varieties Pages
This set of pages describes some of the characteristics and statistics of the main Italian grape varieties. While this is not a comprehensive list, it contains all grape varieties that (1) have at least 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of vineyards growing in Italy or (2) can be a majority component of a DOC wine.
Each grape variety’s page contains some or all of the following fields:
- Color: The primary options are Red and White. Red grapes are those with large amounts of anthocyanins in their skins, giving the ripe grapes a color somewhere between blue and black, or between red and a deep purple; these grapes produce red wines if the skins are used in fermentation. White grapes are usually green in color when ripe, but some varieties can be yellow or pinkish; these grapes make “white” wines. A few types of grapes fall in between and are sometimes categorized as Pink.
- Alternative Names and Subvarieties: Any local or secondary names for the grape variety, along with any major subvarieties—that is, minor genetic variants from a recent common ancestor
- Origin: The options here are International, meaning that the variety originated outside Italy, or Autochthonous, meaning that it developed in Italy. Some varieties are categorized as both, either because they originated elsewhere but have been growing independently in Italy for so long that they have diverged from the original vine (such as Cannonau, a Sardinian descendant of Garnacha) or because they originated in Italy but have since spread to other countries (like Barbera).
- Best Known For: What the grape variety is most recognized for in the wine world.
- Where Grown: A brief summary of the regions of Italy in which the variety is most widely planted. It does not list all the other countries where international varieties are grown.
- Regions: This list cross-references regions to grape varieties. Regions are cited if (1) there is at least 40 hectares (100 acres) of that variety grown there and (2) the region has at least 5% of Italy’s total vineyard acreage of that variety.
- Vineyard Area: The total area in Italy planted with that grape variety as reported in the 2010 agricultural census
- Varietal Characteristics: A brief summary of physical and flavor characteristics of the variety
- Majority Component in One or More Wines of: A cross-reference list of all DOCG and DOC denominations that have at least one wine style in which the grape variety may comprise 50% or more of the blend