If you like Pinot Noir, most likely it’s because of its light body and easy drinking style. An authentic Pinot Noir should be defined as a light body wine, with strawberry-like fruit notes, dry finish, and minimal tannins. So you ask yourself, “What Italian wine is like Pinot Noir?”
While not all Pinot Noirs fit this description, most Pinot die-hards, drink this wine for those reasons. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered a Pinot Noir at a bar and received an oaky, full bodied Pinot Noir. I just don’t get why any winemaker would destroy the elegance of Pinot Noir but I digress.
Pinot Noir Is Similar To An Italian Wine In Sicily
So sticking with the traditional Pinot Noir, we need to find an Italian wine equivalent that has a light body, some hint of red fruit, preferably strawberry, along with low tannins and a dry finish. Under this description, the Italian wine most similar to Pinot Noir would be Frappato.
Frappato is a native Italian grape varietal from Sicily. Historically, Frappato was used as a blending grape in the lower eastern corner of Sicily around the town of Vittoria. It is part of a traditional blend called Cerasuolo di Vittoria which happens to be Sicily’s only DOCG.
You can also find Frappato as a monovarietal. A 100% Frappato aged only in steel would be the closest Italian wine type to Pinot Noir. Now just like Pinot Noir, Frappato can be ruined under the hands of industrial wineries who are trying to satisfy the international wine crowd. You can read more about how the Big Wine Industry is keeping you away from Italy’s best wine in Hidden Gems of Italy. They will age Frappato in oak to make a fuller body wine while sacrificing its light elegance and delicate red fruit notes.
Finding a 100% Frappato aged in steel will be difficult but not impossible, but this would be the first Italian wine like Pinot Noir that I think of. If you’re tired of Pinot Noir but you like its characteristics, go look for a Sicilian Frappato. If you can’t find a 100% Frappato aged in steel, try the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG as your second option.
It Depends How The Pinot Noir Is Made
Insider tip: Winemakers have the skill set to make a light body version of certain grape varietals. I’ve had medium body versions wines that would normally be thought of as full bodied wines. The reason is because the winemaker’s intention was to make an easy-drinking wine. Full-bodied wines are not considered easy drinking. At least, that’s what the Italians believe. It’s very common for Italians to describe a wine as “facile da bere,” or “easy to drink.” This could be any type of wine.
In fact, it is very common when you order house wine in Italy, or “vino della casa,” it’s almost always very easy to drink and made with Italian grape varietals that many would consider full bodied wines. But the house version usually is very soft and easy on the palate, similar what you are looking for in a Pinot Noir.
Other Italian Wines Like Pinot Noir
If you are looking for other Italian wine types that are similar to Pinot Noir and other familiar wines like Merlot, Cabernet, etc,, you should get a copy of Hidden Gems of Italy. There is a section in the book that lists Italian wine type equivalents to wine types you know. The book also teaches you how to find high quality Italian wines for $20 that taste like $50.