A glass of red might be what comes to mind when you hear “Italian wine,” but the boot offers plenty of crisp, fine whites, too. You just need to know where to find them. Often, great Italian white wines come from the north, having little to do with the ol’ northern vs southern Italian stereotype (passionate and hot-blooded vs cool and contained—totally a myth, or is it?) Rather, with wines, its about climate, geography, and terroir.
The Reason Northern Italy White Wines Rock
What makes a white wine great? While much of grape growing and winemaking isn’t straight-forward like a math problem—what works in one region will not in another—some factors hold true across the board. Without getting too technical, diurnal temperature variation and the right amount of sunshine helps white grapes both:
- Retain acidity, and
- stay fresh and flavorful.
Some of Italy’s best white wines come from regions with these traits.
Want to dig deeper into why the technical factors of what makes great white wines? Head over to Wine365 to read more.
Where to Find Great Italian White Wines
These northern Italian regions have plenty of altitude (in some cases in the steep foothills of the Alps), great diurnal temperature variation, and enough sunshine to give the grapes a healthy tan.
Top northern Italian white wines to try:
Italy’s northernmost wine region of Alto Adige borders Austria in the foothills of the Alps. The steep, terraced vineyards enjoy an especially wide diurnal range due to the altitude, giving us wines with great aromatic. The region is gorgeous, transporting you to Switzerland or Austria with its well-tended mountain chalets, cute huts, Alpine cows, and snow-capped peaks.
- Gewürztraminer: Aromatic and fruity, this grape has lush notes of lychee, tangerine, pink grapefruit, rose, and guava. Why the German name? Alto Adige used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
- Müller-Thurgau: Floral, nutmeg, and citrus aromas dominate this grape from Alto Adige. Northern Italy’s old vines and steep high-altitude vineyards give this varietal wine great aging potential and serious character.
- Sylvaner: Another variety whose origins may be German. A crisp, delicate wine with fruity notes of apple and lime, accompanied by a solid minerality.
Alto Adige food pairing:
- Pair gewürztraminer wines with vegetable-based dishes and fresh-water fish as well as blue cheeses and creamy risottos (gorgonzola and walnuts, yum!)
- Pair müller-Thurgau, a weightier and more serious wine, with roasted meats, savory mushroom dishes, and rich cheeses.
- Sylvaner’s delicacy pairs well with fresh vegetables, fruit-based salads, and fresh-water fish – an excellent choice for light summer evenings.