All About Italian White Wines

Bringing Home Rome, Drink, Regional Spotlight, Wine

As a growing number of Italian white wine varietals become available in the United States, people are starting to think beyond Pinot Grigio when ordering a glass at the bar.


Shelley Lindgren, sommelier at San Francisco’s popular Italian restaurants A16 and SPQR, shared with me some of her favorite picks for vino bianco. Many of the wines she recommended were new to me (and may be to you, too), so I’m feeling more confident than ever about navigating regional Italian wine lists.


“Italian wines have a tendency to be drier and crisper than a lot of the French and California wines — not to over-generalize,” says Lindgren. “However, there are so many Italian grapes to choose from that I search out a variation in styles of different whites when selecting wines.”


Here are a few varietals Lindgren recommends for white wine drinkers.


Ribolla Gialla, Fiano di Avellino & Grillo


“If you’re a Chardonnay drinker, you’ll love these wines,” says Lindgren. “Their natural richness holds up to a variety of different foods.”


Chardonnay lovers, ask for an oak-treated style of these wines. Because these grapes are more robust than other whites, they can start a meal and carry through it.


Pair with: fresh corn, tomatoes and braised pork.


Try: Collavini, Movia, Clelia Romano, Mastroberardino, De Bartoli, Valle dell’Acate




“Frascati is made from a blend that primarily includes Malvasia del Lazio (aka puntinata), Malvasia di Candia and Trebbiano Toscana, among other local grapes,” says Lindgren. “It has orange blossom and stone fruit aromas.”


Lindgren places Frascati between Viognier and Chardonnay on the richness scale, thanks in part to its dry finish.


Pair with: artichokes and a spicy tomato sauce.


Try: Castel de Paolis, Zandotti, Casale Mattia, Pallavicini




“Sauvignon Blanc drinkers may enjoy Verdicchio,” says Lindgren. “Most tend to be lighter, with higher acidity.”


Verdicchio is extremely versatile with slight sweetness, lending itself to ethnic foods and heartier fare like egg-based pasta.


Pair with: Thai, Vietnamese and Indian dishes; fruit, mostardas, cheese and salumi.


Try: Bucci, Bisci, Belisario, Conte Giovanni Baldeschi Baleani, Vigneto di Gino


About the authorOlivia Terenzio grew up in Mississippi, where she cultivated a love of sweet potatoes, crawfish and cloth napkins at a young age. A passion for sharing food with friends and family led her into the kitchen and later to culinary school, where she learned how to roast a chicken and decorate a cake like a pro. As a Williams-Sonoma blog editor, she’s now lucky enough to be talking, writing and thinking about food all day.

One comment about “All About Italian White Wines

  1. Warren Bobrow

    I love wines that are made from grapes that I cannot pronounce. They speak of a certain Terroir or taste of the place- that is unique to the region or town.
    There is much more to wine than Pinot Grigio or dare I say… Chardonnay.


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