7 Italian Wines You Should Have in Your Cellar

Beating out France and Spain, Italy produces more wine than any other country (an estimated 4,796,900 tons) and the varieties of wines waiting to be enjoyed are endless! The north-south terrain of the peninsula and a diversity of altitudes create regional micro-climates where grape harvesting is possible on the plains, by the sea and even in rocky, mountainous regions.

Throughout the centuries, using both instinct and science, the wine growers of Italy have refined production techniques to produce ripe, fragrant and superior grapes – which are the essence of making any quality wine.

A vineyard is a small ecosystem in which the grape, soil, and cultivation techniques interact in synergy determining the quality by the composition and structure of the land, the environment and the local climate.

The acronym DOCG (Denomination of Controlled and Guarantee Origin) found on Italian wine labels traces the wine to a specific area in which this combination of climate, soil and cultivation define the territory, thus guarantying that the wine was produced in the region claimed on the bottle.

Although the varieties are infinite, we have selected seven Italian wines which you should definitely have in your wine cellar…


This wine hails from the hilly villages around Berbenno di Valtellina, in northern Lombardy. Aged for 24 months, twelve of which inside wooden barrels, Valtellina Superiore Maroggia is composed of at least 90% Nebbiolo grapes plus 10% of other non-aromatic red grape varieties. In the glass it’s ruby red with garnet reflections and a subtle, pleasant scent. Dry and slightly tannic, velvety, and harmonious it pairs well with meats and game; especially roasts, braised meats, rich stews and tasty grilled or spit-roasted specialties.
Alcohol content: 12%, best served at a temperature between 16 – 18º C.


A wine with a strong character, offering scents of vanilla with aromas of hazelnut and dried rose. This too is from the Valtellina Valley just north of Lake Como and has a rich ruby red color. Earthy and tannic, full and aromatic after being aged for 24 months, twelve of which inside wooden barrels. The initial roughness gives way to a softer, velvety taste. It’s richness balances well with past dishes seasoned with game meat sauces, or with slow cooked meat dishes or aged cheeses.
Alcohol content: 12%, best served at a temperature of 18º C.


Stretched over the plains near Brescia between Lake Iseo and Lake Garda vineyards adorn the area like picturesque canvases. Golden and intense, this sparkling Brut has a pleasant freshness harmonized with an innate softness and a delicate silkiness. White flower and sensations of vanilla are perceived within this blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco. This bubbly must be aged for a minimum of 25 months, of which at least 18 in the bottle on the lees (sur lie(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lees_(fermentation)#Sur_lie)), whereas for vintage Franciacorta, the minimum aging time is 37 months, of which at least 30 in the bottle.
Franciacorta pairs excellently with a risotto such as with asparagus or red chicory (radicchio). Not surprisingly, it is also the perfect accompaniment for Sushi, Roast Chicken and other white meats.
Alcohol content: 12.5%, best served at a temperature between 10º – 12º C.


From the same area in the province of Brescia in Lombardy, this wine is a mix of Pinot Nero (minimum 35%), Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco (maximum 50%), and Erbamat (maximum 10%). The Pinot Nero grapes ferment intact with the skin giving the wine its pearly pink shade. The presence of Pinot Nero gives to this Franciacorta a particular body and vigor as well as the typical hints of the wine. Although soft and pink, its dry
and structured, with notes of fruit, red flowers in a balanced acidity. Franciacorta Rose’ couples well with white rice, fresh fish or prawns, as well as Butterfly Pasta with Pesto.
Alcohol content: 12.5%, best served at a temperature between 9º – 11º C.


The Langhe hills, southwest of the town of Alba in Piedmont is known as the birthplace of Barolo. This is a dry, full-bodied, bold wine made from Nebbiolo grapes after a minimum of three years aging, two of which in wood barrels. To achieve the Riserva quality, it must be aged for at least five yearsIn the glass, it is a ruby red color with deep orange highlights intrepid with complex aromas and earthy flavors of strawberries, herbs, rose, violet, liquorice and even tobacco. Each sip offers a firm, tannic structure of this unique ensemble.
Barolo pairs well with barbequed meat, venison, meat stews and aged cheeses.
Alcohol content: 13%, best served decantered and at a temperature between 18º – 20º C


The vast area around Alba spreads east from the Tanaro River and reaches into the Roero hills to the west and to the north. Its garnet red color transforms into a deep maroon when aged. Barbera D’Alba Superiore is aged six to eight years, aging for at least one year in oak or chestnut barrels. This dry, light to medium-bodied wine with intense berry flavor is excellent served with winter dishes such as hearty pasta dishes, vegetable soups, boiled meats, stews, and game.
Alcohol content: 13%, best served decantered and at a temperature between 18º – 20º C


Although dolcetto means “sweet or candy”, it leads to the misconception that Dolcetto d’Acqui is a sweet dessert wine. Though it pairs well with chocolate or cheese, Piedmont Dolcetto is served with variety of antipasti plates as well as main dishes. Its subtle acidity and soft tannins won’t overwhelm delicate seafood dishes and its structure pairs nicely with tomato-based pastas, meat and vegetable dishes. Dolcetto is fiery red with bright highlightsdry and soft with almond undertones.
Alcohol content: 11.5%, best served at a temperature between 16 – 18 ° C
If you can’t find all the wines at your local wine merchant, you’ll just have to come to Italy!

Contact us for more information about food and wine tours at Lake Como.

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