Our wine expert Kate Hawkings gives us advice on the unsung wines of Italy and picks some of the best Italian wines to try, all with an unusual spin. These top bottle picks include an alternative to prosecco and some of the very best Italian red and white wines. For more like this, read our deep-dive into the best Italian red wines to buy or explore more of Europe with our guides to the best Greek wine to buy and best German wines to buy.


When it comes to wine, Italy is surely the most diverse country in the world. Wine is made in every region, from the cool-climate mountains of the Alto Adige in the far north, to the sun-scorched swathes of the south. Italy is the world’s largest producer, making wines of hugely different styles and qualities.

Piedmont’s noble nebbiolos, with barolo as their king; sangiovese-based chiantis and other grandees from Tuscany; soaves and amarones from the Veneto: the great wines of northern and central Italy are among the finest in the world.

Further south in Italy, where the land is often good for nothing but those hardy Mediterranean bedfellows, grapes and olives, the wines have generally enjoyed less prestigious reputations, more appreciated for their rustic charms (and cheapness) than for their finesse and complexity.

But things are changing. Winemaking in Italy, particularly in the south, has improved in recent years, with grapes indigenous to their regions being championed and treated to careful handling in the winery. Sicily and Puglia are the regions I most often look to for well-priced wines of character and interest, but there are so many more worth exploring. Now is the time to discover the unfamiliar wines of Italy – there really is something for everybody. @KateHawkings

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Best Italian wines to try at a glance

  • Best prosecco alternative: Bellavista Franciacorta Alma Gran Cuvée Brut NV, £33.97
  • Best unusual Italian wine: Cantine Belisario Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2016 Marche, £12.70
  • Best sparkling rosé: Brown Brothers Zibibbo Rosa sparkling NV, £14.95
  • Best unusual Italian white wine: The Wine Society’s Falanghina, £9.25

Best Italian wines to try 2023

Bellavista Franciacorta Alma Gran Cuvée Brut NV


Best prosecco alternative

If you’re looking for Italian fizz that’s classier and more interesting than prosecco – and who isn’t? – try a franciacorta from Lombardy. Not cheap, but they can give decent champagne a run for its money and this is the one that I keep coming back to.

Available from:
Vivino (£33.97)

Cantine Belisario Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2016 Marche


Best unusual Italian wine

Lacrima means ‘teardrop’ and refers to the shape of this indigenous grape, as well as to its propensity to ooze juice when fully ripe. It is very distinctive, with floral notes redolent of your granny’s handbag, along with warming, exotic spices she may not have heard of. A wild-card wine that’s bound to be a talking point.

Available from:
Vinvm (£12.70)

Brown Brothers Zibibbo Rosa sparkling NV

BB_SPK_Zibibbo_Rosa_NV-2 (1)

Best sparkling rosé

Australia has been turning its attention to Italian grapes and is doing good things with them. Zibibbo hails from Sicily and here is made into a delightful rose-scented sparkler.

Available from:
Sandhams Wine (£14.95)

The Wine Society’s Falanghina

The Wine Society's Falanghina

Best unusual Italian white wine

There is so much more to Italian whites than the often-dreary pinot grigio we Brits seem to adore. This ancient grape from Naples’ hinterland makes for a lip-smacking wine, and has the versatility to suit our risotto verde and our easy tray-baked chicken thighs with romesco.

Available from:
The Wine Society (£9.50)


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Kate HawkingsWine Columnist

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