6th July 2019 by Rachel Wallhouse

Italy has over 350 grape varieties officially permitted in wine production, and a further 500 documented varieties planted. Given that, there’s a good chance you haven’t tried them all! Let’s explore these varieties together…

  1. Canaiolo is a lesser-known red grape variety, mostly grown in Tuscany, where it can be used in the blend for Chianti DOCG, Italy’s most exported wine (mostly known for it’s Sangiovese heavy blend). It functions much like merlot in a Bordeaux blend, softening tannins and adding juicy red fruit flavours.. It’s a MUST to try with a tomato heavy dish. 

2. Pecorino, a white grape, supposedly gets its name from the fact that the  sheep would often eat the grapes whilst walking through the vineyards. This variety is growing in popularity due to its fresh style and clean minerality. In a rather lovely coincidence, it pairs very well with the soft Italian cheese of the same name. Who’d have thought? 

Fancy trying a bottle? The Whalley Wine Shop have just the one for you. Located in Abruzzo, Civitas is an award-winning cooperative that is now certified biodynamic. Under the brand Lunaria, they support the activities of the WWF to protect native wolves in Abruzzo. A lovely, bright wine with aromas of citrus, ripe pear and orange blossom. Buy online now

4. Greco Bianco, is a white grape usually grown in Southern Italy, which was likely originally brought over from Greece over 3000 years ago (how exotic!). It produces delicate, lightly aromatic wines reminiscent of Viognier, particularly at higher altitudes, with an added light herbaceous flavour. Greco tends to drink well in its youth, and matches well with shellfish. Treat yourself on a lovely summer’s day. 

5. Our last wine is Nero d’Avola from Sicily. The dark-skinned grape is of great historical importance to Sicily and takes its present day name from the town of Avola on the island’s southeast coast. But enough of the facts! What does it taste like? Younger wines show plum and juicy, red-fruit flavours, while more complex examples offer chocolate and dark raspberry flavours. 

Our version of Nero d’Avola is brought to you from Baglio Gibellina. Partially dried grapes, from ancient Sicilian agriculture, are harvested in late Autumn to create this aromatically complex wine. Passimiento allows you to discover ancient and unique tastes. This wine is intense with hints of red berry fruit. Buy online now.


I hope this has helped you to discover some ‘off the beaten track wines’. Let us know your favourite wines by tagging us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.