12 Delicious Italian Red Wines to Drink with Warming Winter Meals

3 bottles of wine on a designed background
Images Courtesy of Wine.com
All featured products are independently selected by our editorial team or contributors. Wine Enthusiast does not accept payment to conduct any product review, though we may earn a commission on purchases made through links on this site. Prices were accurate at the time of publication.

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.

The Top 10 Chiantis on the Market Right Now

Best Wines from Piedmont

Brezza 2018 Barolo

93 Points Wine Enthusiast

This opens with enticing varietal aromas of small red berry, rose, camphor and dark spice. Made with organically-farmed grapes, it’s full-bodied and elegant, featuring ripe Marasca cherry, licorice and suggestions of almond liqueur framed in firm but polished tannins. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced. Drink 2025–2030. —Kerin O’Keefe

$49.99 Vivino

Prunotto 2019 Barbaresco

93 Points Wine Enthusiast

Fragrant and loaded with finesse, this has aromas of red berry, iris, leather and forest floor. The youthfully austere palate offers sour cherry, cranberry and licorice alongside taut, fine-grained tannins. Bright acidity keeps it vibrant and balanced. Best 2027–2034. Editor’s Choice —K.O.

$41.99 Total Wine & More

Michele Chiarlo 2018 Le Orme (Barbera d’Asti)

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

Fragrant aromas of mature dark-skinned fruit, underbrush and spice lead the nose. The succulent palate offers Marasca cherry, raspberry jam and baking spice alongside firm acidity and polished tannins. Enjoy through 2025. Editor’s Choice —K.O.

$15.99 Wine.com

Best Wine from Northeast Italy

Masi 2016 Costasera (Amarone della Valpolicella Classico)

95 Points Wine Enthusiast

Ripe black-skinned fruit, blue flower and baking spice aromas form the nose of this full-bodied red along with a whiff of cedar. Concentrated but possessing a weightless elegance, the smooth, enveloping palate delivers prune marinated in spirits, black cherry, licorice and cocoa framed in velvety tannins. Drink through 2036. #48 Top 100 Cellar Selections 2022 —K.O.

$49.99 Total Wine & More

Best Wines from Tuscany

Conti Costanti 2017 Brunello di Montalcino

97 Points Wine Enthusiast

Extremely elegant and focused, this compelling wine defies the heat of the vintage, starting with a heady fragrance of ripe dark-skinned berries, violet, camphor, dark spice and whiffs of crushed herbs. On the linear, elegantly structured palate, tightly woven but extremely polished tannins accompany juicy Marasca cherry, blood orange, licorice and white pepper while fresh acidity keeps it balanced and fresh. Drink 2025–2032. —K.O.

$110.99 Total Wine & More

Marchesi Antinori 2018 Tignanello Red (Toscana)

97 Points Wine Enthusiast

Fragrant and incredibly refined, this classy red exhibits enticing scents including ripe berry, fine tobacco blend, camphor and dark spice. Smooth and enveloping, the delicious palate boasts a winning combination of creaminess and vibrancy, delivering juicy black cherry, red cherry, licorice and dried mint framed in polished, fine-grained tannins. Fresh acidity keeps it well-balanced. Drink 2023–2033. Cellar Selection —K.O.

$139.99 Vivino

Avignonesi 2017 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

93 Points Wine Enthusiast

Certified organic and following the principles of biodynamic viticulture, this lovely red opens with enticing scents of camphor, pressed rose petal, forest floor and licorice. Smooth and savory, the linear, elegant palate delivers juicy cranberry, pomegranate, coffee bean and orange zest alongside taut but extremely refined tannins. Surprisingly fresh acidity for the hot vintage keeps it balanced. Drink through 2029. —K.O.

$25.99 Total Wine & More

Badia a Coltibuono 2019 Chianti Classico

92 Points Wine Enthusiast

Ripe wild berry, blue flower and dark spice aromas form the nose along with whiffs of new leather. Tangy and easy drinking, the savory palate offers mature Marasca cherry and licorice alongside lithe tannins. Drink through 2024. —K.O.

$23.99 Wine.com

Best Wines from Central Italy

Contesa 2020 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

This spicy red displays aromas of Sichuan peppercorn, blood orange peel and mentholated tobacco on the nose, with a solid core of black cherry and red plum. It’s polished and supple on the palate, with smooth tannins and pulsing acidity working in tandem to lend a firm webbing for the plump cherry and plum flavors to shine. Accents of orange peel and purple flowers lend levity, with a savory twang of granite on the close. —Alexander Peartree

$20 Wine-Searcher

Tre Monti 2018 Superiore Petrignone Riserva Sangiovese (Romagna)

91 Points Wine Enthusiast

Aromas of violet, leather, resin and baked plum come to the forefront. It’s full-bodied and rounded, doling out fleshy blackberry, spiced blueberry, mocha and tobacco alongside enveloping, fine-grained tannins. Drink 2024–2028. —K.O.

$26 Wine-Searcher

Best Wines from Southern Italy

Mastroberardino 2016 Radici (Taurasi)

92 Points Wine Enthusiast

Aromas of scorched earth, dried botanical herbs and baked plum form the nose along with whiffs of toasted nut. On the taut, structured palate, tightly knit, fine-grained tannins support dried cherry, licorice and tobacco. Drink 2024–2031. —K.O.

$44.95 Vivino

Tenuta di Fessina 2020 Erse (Etna)

92 Points Wine Enthusiast

Red berry, Mediterranean brush and camphor aromas escape the glass on this elegant red. The elegantly structured, medium-bodied palate features ripe raspberry, wild cherry, crushed mint and fennel seed alongside bright acidity and polished tannins. Drink through 2029. —K.O.

$26 Wine-Searcher

Why You Should Trust Us

All products featured here are independently selected by our team, which is comprised of experienced writers and wine tasters and overseen by editorial professionals at Wine Enthusiast headquarters. All ratings and reviews are performed blind in a controlled setting and reflect the parameters of our 100-point scale. Wine Enthusiast does not accept payment to conduct any product review, though we may earn a commission on purchases made through links on this site. Prices were accurate at the time of publication.


FAQ

What Is the Most Popular Italian Red Wine?

As previously listed, some of the most common Italian red wines are Barolo, made from the Nebbiolo grape; Chianti, made from the Sangiovese grape; and wines made from the Montepulciano grape.

What Are the Best Italian White Wines?

There is a wide range of white Italian wines that are popular, but one of the most common wines is Pinot Grigio. This white grape often comes from the northeast of Italy in the Veneto region. These wines are commonly unoaked with notes of apples and citrus fruits. Pinot Grigio wines are typically light-bodied and dry. Other popular grape varieties are Cortese, Garganega, Verdicchio and Fiano.

What Are the Best Italian Sparking Wines?

Prosecco is likely the most popular sparkling Italian wine, but there are many other Italian sparkling wines to try including Moscato/Muscat.

We Recommend:
Published on January 3, 2023
Topics: Buying Guide