Italian red wine is made from a wide range of different grape varieties into a diversity of styles.
At the left you will see just a few of the more widely grown grape varieties in Italy. Believe me there are many, many more, thousands in fact.
However many wines are not sold under their varietal name as is the case in new world countries, rather they are sold under the name of the region or DOC. In Italy some wines are sold under the name of the predominant grape variety, others under regional or style names.
Perhaps the best known of these is Chianti, named after the region in Tuscany where the wine is grown. Chianti is made predominately from the Sangiovese grape variety.
Winemakers choose different grape varieties for many reasons, but fundamentally the variety has to be suitable for the climate of the region in which it is grown.
Many wine varieties used in the warmer southern regions of Italy would never ripen in the cooler north, and those from the North would ripen too quickly to make sound wine in the south.
So to understand Italian red wines we need to know about the Region as well as the grape variety.
And of course over the years the culinary traditions of the different regions have evolved to use local ingredients, and in Italy wine is an important regional ingredient.
There are hundreds of wine regions and hundreds of grape varieties so you probably need a roadmap to help you get started in your exploration of Italian red wine varieties.
You can explore more about the Regions of Italy from this page.
Or you can explore different wine varieties using the mini nav-bar at the right.