top of page

Uncovering Italian Hidden Gems: 15 Obscure and Unusual Wines and Grapes to Try

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Italy has long been considered one of the world's most important wine-producing countries, and for good reason. With over 5000 grape varieties, Italy offers an unparalleled diversity of wines that range from light, crisp whites to rich, full-bodied reds.


While some of Italy's wines, such as Chianti and Prosecco, are well-known around the world, many others remain relatively obscure and unknown. We are excited to introduce you to some of the most unusual and fascinating Italian wines and grapes you may have never heard of!


From the floral whites of Coda di Volpe and Timorasso to the complex reds of Schioppettino and Nerello Mascalese, join me on a journey of discovery as we explore the hidden gems of Italian wine.


  • Coda di Volpe, meaning "tail of the fox" in Italian, is a white grape variety found primarily in the Campania region of southern Italy. The grape gets its name from its long, tapered bunches that resemble a fox's tail. Coda di Volpe produces wines with a fresh, floral aroma and a crisp acidity, making it an ideal match for seafood and light pasta dishes.


close up image of coda di volpe grape

Coda di Volpe Grape. XtraWine


  • Pignolo is a red grape variety native to the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy. This grape is known for its small, thick-skinned berries, which produce wines with an intense, tannic structure and a rich, complex flavor. Pignolo wines are often aged for several years before being released, allowing them to develop a smooth, elegant character.


close up image of the pignolo grape

Pignolo Grape. Enoteca Vino Nostro


  • Teroldego is a red grape variety grown primarily in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northern Italy. The grape produces wines with a deep ruby color, a rich, fruity aroma, and a medium to full-bodied flavor. Teroldego wines are often aged in oak barrels, giving them a spicy, smoky character.


close up of the Teroldego grape

Teroldego Grape. Taste Trentino


  • Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a white grape variety grown exclusively in the Tuscan hill town of San Gimignano. The grape produces wines with a delicate, floral aroma and a crisp, refreshing acidity. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is known for its distinctive bottle shape, which is wider at the base than at the top.


closeup of the vernaccia di san gimigniano grape

Vernaccia di San Gimigniano Grape. Chianti Life


  • Aglianico is a red grape variety native to the southern regions of Campania and Basilicata. The grape produces wines with a deep, dark color, a full-bodied flavor, and a high tannin content. Aglianico wines are often aged in oak barrels, which give them a smoky, spicy character.


Aglianico grape image

Aglianico Grape. Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo


  • Lacrima di Morro d'Alba is a red grape variety grown primarily in the Marche region of central Italy. The grape produces wines with a deep, intense color, a rich, fruity aroma, and a medium to full-bodied flavor. Lacrima di Morro d'Alba is known for its floral, aromatic character, with notes of violets and rose petals.


Lacrima di moro grape image

Lacrima di Morro d'Alba Grape. Gus Clemens on Wine


  • Sagrantino is a red grape variety grown primarily in the Umbria region of central Italy. The grape produces wines with a deep, dark color, a rich, complex flavor, and a high tannin content. Sagrantino wines are often aged for several years before being released, allowing them to develop a smooth, elegant character.



Sagrantino grape image

Sagrantino Grape. Girl's Gotta Drink


  • Glera is a white grape variety used to make Prosecco, the sparkling wine of the Veneto region. Glera produces wines with a light, crisp, refreshing character, making it an ideal match for summer picnics and outdoor gatherings. Glera wines are also used to make sparkling rosé wines, which have become increasingly popular in recent years.


Glera grape image

Glera Grape. Terroir Review


  • Brachetto d'Acqui is a red grape variety grown primarily in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The grape produces wines with a bright, ruby color and a sweet, fruity flavor with notes of strawberries and raspberries. Brachetto d'Acqui is often made into a lightly sparkling wine, which makes it a perfect pairing for desserts like fresh berries, chocolate, or cheesecake. Brachetto d'Acqui is often made into a lightly sparkling wine, which makes it a perfect pairing for desserts like fresh berries, chocolate, or cheesecake.


Brachetto D'Acqui grape image

Brachetto d'Acqui Grape. Grape Experiences


  • Schioppettino is a red grape variety grown in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy. The grape produces wines with a deep, dark color, a rich, spicy aroma, and a full-bodied flavor with notes of black pepper, blackberry, and plum. Schioppettino wines are often aged in oak barrels, which gives them a smooth, velvety character.



Schiopettino grape image

Schiopettino Grape. XtraWine


  • Timorasso is a white grape variety grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The grape produces wines with a bright, golden color and a complex, floral aroma with notes of peach, apricot, and honey. Timorasso wines are often aged in oak barrels, which gives them a rich, creamy texture.


Timorasso grape image

Timorasso Grape. WareHouse


  • Aleatico is a red grape variety grown primarily in the southern regions of Italy. The grape produces wines with a deep, ruby color, a sweet, fruity aroma, and a full-bodied flavor with notes of black cherry, blackberry, and cinnamon. Aleatico wines are often made into sweet or dessert wines, which makes them a perfect pairing for chocolate or fruit-based desserts.


Aleatico grape image

Aleatico Grape. Forbes


  • Schiava is a red grape variety grown in the Alto Adige region of northeast Italy. The grape produces wines with a light, ruby color and a fruity, floral aroma with notes of raspberry, strawberry, and rose petal. Schiava wines are often made into light-bodied red wines that are perfect for pairing with charcuterie or pasta dishes.


Schiava grossa grape image

Schiava Grossa Grape. RV Roger Ltd


  • Vermentino is a white grape variety grown primarily in the Liguria and Sardinia regions of Italy. The grape produces wines with a light, crisp, refreshing character and a delicate, floral aroma with notes of citrus and green apple. Vermentino wines are often paired with seafood or light pasta dishes.


Vermentino grape image

Vermentino Grape. Tablas Creek Vineyard Blog


  • Nerello Mascalese is a red grape variety grown primarily on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. The grape produces wines with a deep, ruby color and a complex, smoky aroma with notes of black cherry, blackberry, and spices. Nerello Mascalese wines are often aged in oak barrels, which gives them a rich, velvety texture.


Nerello Mascalese grape

Nerello Mascalese Grape. Vini Franchetti



Italian wines offer a wealth of diversity and complexity that is unmatched by any other wine-producing country.


From the crisp, refreshing whites of Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Glera to the complex, full-bodied reds of Pignolo and Sagrantino, there is something for everyone in the world of Italian wine. So the next time you're looking to try something new and exciting, consider exploring the many obscure and unusual Italian wines that are waiting to be discovered.


Salute!


If you want to learn more about Italian wine, check our our book The Italian Wine Connoisseur: a 7 Day Guide to Mastering Italian Wine.


Italian wine connoisseur book in different formats


41 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page