In a good year, Italy is the world’s top wine-producing country by volume (with France also claiming that distinction at times), and has a rich winemaking history dating back to the 8th century BC. Greek colonists were the first to establish viticulture in Italy, and production later flourished with the rise of the Roman Empire.
Today, Italy accounts for nearly a fifth of the world’s wine production, and the country’s diverse landscape and latitudinal range — from the Alps in the north to within a short nautical jaunt of Africa in the south — lends itself to a variety of different styles. Among Italy’s most-celebrated styles are Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti, made primarily with Sangiovese from the Tuscany region, and Barolo and Barbaresco from the Piedmont region, produced exclusively from Nebbiolo.
Italy also produces some terrific whites. Besides Pinot Grigio, which is the most well-known and commercially successful white varietal from Italy, other grapes that stand out are Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Vernaccia and Moscato — the grape used in Italy’s most famous sparkling wine, Asti.