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When winter rolls around, there’s nothing quite like cozying up to a bold bottle of red. And Italian red wines are particularly delicious picks when it comes to pairing them with your warming winter bowls of polenta, pasta or roasted meats. So, grab your plates of braised short ribs, Risotto alla Milanese or orecchiette with greens and sausage, and pour yourself a glass of these top-rated red Italian wines.
Plus, you can read up on our best Italian wines and the best Italian wines to cellar for more picks, or find budget-friendly options on our rundown of the best Italian wines for $15 or less.
What Is the Most Popular Wine in Italy?
Check out our beginner’s guides to Italian wine and bottlings from Italy’s Piedmont region for a full breakdown, but to begin, these are some of the most popular red grapes grown in Italy and the type of wine they’re known for producing.
Nebbiolo. Most notably, Nebbiolo is the only grape allowed in wines of Barolo, a full-bodied, high-tannic and bold red wine. This wine is one of the most famous to hail from the northwest Italian region of Piedmont. Additionally, the nearby area of Barbaresco produces a similar wine.
Barbera. Widely grown in the northwest region of Piedmont, Barbera is best known for wines from Asti. It’s a low-tannin, high-acid and fruity red wine.
Corvina. Grown predominantly in the northeast region of Veneto, Corvina is well known for wines grown in the Valpolicella area. These red wines are light and fruity; the grapes can sometimes lend to off-dry or sweet red wines as well.
Sangiovese. Most often associated with the Chianti area in central Italy, Sangiovese grapes produce a dry red wine that is high in tannin and acidity with fruit and herb flavors. In southern Tuscany, these grapes also contribute to Brunello wines that are fuller bodied and bold.
Montepulciano. This deep red wine has medium acid, high tannin and fruit flavors of plum and cherry. Montepulciano is best known for its production in the east-central region of Abruzzo.
Primitivo. Grown in the southern Italian region of Puglia, the Primitivo grape (also known as Zinfandel in the United States) creates a soft, fruity and dry red wine.
Though there are so many delicious Italian wines to add to your collection, here we break down 12 top-rated red Italian wines that pair beautifully with your seasonal eats.