Best of Rome: Wine

Bringing Home Rome, Drink, Learn, Primers, Regional Spotlight, Wine

Gone are the days when the local carafe wine curled your hair and most bottles either had a screw cap or came from Tuscany. It is getting easier and easier to find good wine in Rome. Today, chic wine shops and wine bars with encyclopedic lists have largely replaced neighborhood barrel-and-carafe hangouts.


There are three official quality designations for Italian wine:

  • Denominazione d’origine contrallata (DOC) is the basic designation. It guarantees that the wine was both produced within a designated area and in keeping with specific criteria of composition and production.
  • Denominazione d’origine controllata e Garantita (DOCG) is similar, with stricter controls.
  • Indicazione geografica (IGT) provides a category for diverse blends and techniques tied to a specific area, but with less rigid specifications.



Until the 1990s, straw-colored Frascati DOC was considered an inexpensive, drinkable wine. Many of its producers still go for quantity, but the single-vineyard Frascatis of some estates, such as Castel de Paolis and Villa Simone, are lovely.












Marino DOC 

The Marino area produces wines similar in composition to Frascati. The zone is dominated by two names: large, mass-market Gotta d’Oro and the family business Colle Picchioni, which put the Castelli Romani region (southeast of Rome) on the map.











Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone 

This DOC white is best known for its funny name, but Falesco’s single-vineyard Poggio dei Gelsi, along with a few others, has brought dignity back to the denomination.














Cerveteri is the name of a charming town north of Rome; it’s also a DOC zone. The Etruscan method of training vines to trees, called vite maritata, is still found in parts of central Italy.














The Grechetto grape is one of central Italy’s oldest varieties. The bright gold wine is fermented in wood casks in ancient grottoes of volcanic tufa before spending 10 more months in oak.












Rosso Lazio 

The designation Rosso Lazio IGT is used for some of the region’s finest and most innovative wines. The Di Mauro family’s Vigna del Vassalo, a velvety Merlot blend, is a favorite, along with Castel de Paolis’ I Quattro Mori and Casale del Giglio’s Mater Matuta.












The local Cesanese grape is used for dry and sweet wines in three DOC zones in the region’s southernmost province, Frosinone. The wines, Piglio, Affile and Olevano Romano, are a lovely ruby red when young.












Aleatico di Gradoli 

The region’s only true dessert wine is the sweet, red Aleatico di Gradoli, from a small DOC zone. Made entirely from the black Aleatico grape, it is often likened to port in its liquoroso (fortified version).






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