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Guide to Italian Wine Terms


Have you ever read an Italian wine label and wondered what all those words mean?


From frizzante to riserva Italian wine bottles are chock full of information that tell you about how and where the wine was made, as well as what it tastes like.



The most basic factor in choosing a wine is the color!

Vino bianco: white wine
Vino rosato: rosé wine
Vino rosso: red wine


Are you looking for something dry or sweet? Sparkling or still? The following terms are used to indicate levels of dryness and sweetness.

Abboccato: semi-dry and slightly sweet
Amabile: semi-sweet
Brut: dry, sparkling wine (ok, so this is French but the same word is used in Italian as well)
Dolce: sweet
Frizzante: lightly sparkling
Spumante: a sparkling dry or sweet wine
Secco: dry (often applied to still wines)


From drying processes to aging periods, there are many methods and styles that Italian winemakers can use to produce their wine.

Appassimento: a method of drying grapes, used to concentrate the flavor and sugar of the grapes. Very common in Amarone wine!
Passito: a concentrated, sweet dessert wine made with dried grapes
Riserva: wine that has been aged for a specific time before it is put on the market
Vino liquoroso: fortified wine
Vin Santo: a sweet wine common in Toscana, generally consumed at the end of a meal (and delicious for dipping cantucci)


There are many different types of winemakers throughout Italy. Labels usually indicate the name of the producer and tell you what type of property the wine was made on.

Azienda Agricola: a farm or estate that grows grapes and produces wine
Cantina: winery
Cascina: farmhouse
Tenuta: farm or estate
Produttore: producer
Podere: small estate or property

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