What Italian Wine Is Like Pinot Noir?

what italian wine is like pinot noir

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.

what italian wine is like pinot noir

What Italian Wine Is Similar To Cabernet Sauvignon?

what italian wine is similar to cabernet sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is arguably one of the most famous wines in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon is a native French grape that cultivates easily and now grows in wine regions throughout the world. The California wine industry certainly took the wine to mass-appeal in the American wine market.

Whether you’re Italian-American who wants to reconnect with the homeland, or you have some other connection with Italy, you want to know which Italian wine is similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, it depends.

If you’re drinking California Cabernet, we’re talking about an enormously full bodied wine with a massive amount ripe fruit notes. This is achieved with high sugar levels in the wine. Old World wine enthusiasts, people who drink wines mainly from France and Italy, would argue there is too much sugar in those “Cali-Cabs.”

If you drink Cabernet Sauvignon from France, we are talking about a style of wine much different from that of California.

California Cabernet Sauvginon

If you find yourself drinking Califronia Cabs and you can’t seem to find something similar in Italy, the problem is probably that you are so used to drinking “sugary” or overly-oaked wines. If that’s the case, your best bet is to try a Primitivo from the Puglia region in Italy. Primitivo is one of the most generous fruit-forward and full bodied wines in Italy. It makes an excellent transition wine if you want cross over to Italian wine. You can learn more about Primitivo in my book Hidden Gems of Italy. There are many reasons for exploring Primitivo

French Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’re coming from a more traditional style of Cabernet Sauvignon from France, we’re talking about a full bodied wine with sour black berry notes and a dry and earthy finish. If that’s the case, I’d go with a five to 10 year-old Taurasi from Campania. Taurasi is made with 100% Aglianico grapes and makes a great age-worthy wine. Aglianico is not generous on the fruit side of the flavor profile, but it does exhibit dark fruits. It’s full bodied with leather tannins and notes of tar and earth on the finish. Don’t go from California Cabs to this wine. Save it for later!

Other Italian Wines Similar To Cabernet Sauvignon

Looking for an Italian wine that is similar to a well-known wine is a great way to explore the world of Italian wines. You should get yourself a copy of Hidden Gems of Italy because there are two charts full of known wines like Cabernet Sauvignon that are similar to Italian wines.

what italian wine is similar to cabernet sauvignon

What Italian Wine Is Similar To Sauvignon Blanc?

what italian wine is similar to sauvignon blanc

Sauvignon Blanc was first made famous by the French and much later New Zealand took it to another level of world-wide fame. Now you can find Sauvignon Blanc in California and other parts of the world.

In the white wine world, Sauvignon Blanc is just another trendy wine pushed by millions of dollars of advertising and investments to make it a household name. This is my opinion although I’m sure others would agree.

Regardless whether Sauvignon Blanc is trendy or not, you like this wine. Most likely you enjoy the citrus notes and crispy acidity that make it a refreshing full bodied white wine.

But you’re looking for an Italian wine that is similar to Sauvignon Blanc. You might be Italian-American and want to find something made in Italy that is similar in style and taste. Or you’ve taken a trip to Italy, fell in love with the country, and you’d like to find a nice white wine similar to Sauvignon Blanc. Maybe you have some other reason that inspires curiosity to see what Italian wine Italy has to offer that shares some of the same qualities as Sauvignon Blanc.

If you’re looking for a crispy white wine with citrus notes, take a look at a Sicilian wine called Catarratto. Before you run out and buy a Catarratto at your local wine store, I’d advise you to try various brands before you judge this zesty white wine from Sicily. There are reasons for this and I go through it briefly followed by the flavor profile.

Catarratto is a native Sicilian grape that has been growing in Italy’s largest region for at least 1,000 years. It’s name literally means “cataract,” referring to a gushing waterfall. The description is derived by how Catarratto behaves as a wine in the glass more so than a description of the grape itself. The “legs” of Catarratto are quite long and act like little waterfalls sliding down the glass.

Historically, Catarratto was made in bulk to be sold locally and exported. While production levels of Catarratto have been reduced in order to achieve higher quality wines, Catarratto still remains the most cultivated white wine grape in Sicily.

Most of the very inexpensive Sicilian wines that hit the American market first were blends of Catarratto and other white varietals.

What Does Catarratto Taste Like?

The best Catarratto has a lively, crispy and zesty acidity that makes you think of lemons swinging on Sicilian palm trees. Medium to full body depending on how concentrated the wine is. The higher the eleven of the vineyards, the more potential for citrus notes. The higher the elevation, the higher the potential for lush and ripe citrus fruits. This is where a smaller production becomes important.

Look for a monovarietal of Catarratto made by a small producer. You’ll get the most authentic and pleasing results there. If you can’t find a small production version, start with whatever you can find as along as it’s 100% Cattarrato so you can taste the essence of this beautiful Sicilian grape.

Try at least 3 different brands that make 100% Catarratto and decide for yourself if there are similarities between this wine and Sauvignon Blanc. Who knows, maybe you’ll love Catarratto for than Sauvignon Blanc. I know I do.

Find Other Italian Wines Similar To Sauvignon Blanc

Looking for an Italian wine that is similar to a well-known wine is a great way to explore the world of Italian wines. You should get yourself a copy of Hidden Gems of Italy because there are two charts full of more familiar wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec and Pinot Noir that are similar to Italian wines.

what italian wine is similar to sauvignon blanc

Italian Wine Types – Which Italian Wine Is The Best

Most Italian Wine Lovers Know 2 Categories Of Italian Wine

1. The $10 cheap wines: the straw-covered Chianti, the bubbly Prosecco, and the “safe bet” Pinot Grigio.

2. The expensive and world-renowned Italian wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, and Brunello di Montalcino.

On the low end, you’ve got the cheap Italian wines that don’t really show you the world-class potential of the “land of wine.” On the high end, you’ve got some of the best wines in the world, from $40 and up. Even on the high end though, it’s not guaranteed that every Barolo, Barbaresco, or Brunello will be any good.

Here’s the deal: you can actually find high quality, top-class, hidden gem Italian wines in the $15-$30 price range that taste like $50 on the quality level. This is a third, unexplored category that most people miss out on. I call this unexplored category, Hidden Gems.

Anyone who has ever traveled the country will tell you that every region in Italy has its own cuisine. There are virtually thousands of different pasta dishes in Italy that all taste di different. You’ll never get bored with the same tired dishes; Italy always has something new to offer your palate! The same holds true with wine. The best part is we have access to virtually all the wines of Italy’s 20 regions. Especially the $15-$30 Hidden Gems I’m talking about.

One problem is that there are too many wines choices at your local wine shop. If we focus on just Italian wines, we still have too many options. But there are many Italian wines you should avoid. It is easy to avoid these wines when you know what to look for; there are clues on the front and back labels of a bottle of wine that reveal the quality and value of that wine. These clues on a bottle will help you decide whether to buy it and try it, or let it collect dust on the store shelf.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to drink those $10 Chianti’s and Pinot Grigio’s and I can’t afford an $80 Barolo Monday through Friday either.

Instead, I want to be sipping on a refreshing Catarratto from Sicily in the summer or pairing a massive Aglianico from Campania with my Ribeye Steak. I want to hang out with my friends on a summer evening drinking a bubbly Falanghina Spumante or sharing a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo with my family at a Sunday dinner.

So there are many motivations behind selecting an Italian wine. But the one thing that we can be sure of is that we are seeking hidden gems that take our palate to paradise while protecting our pockets. These are some of the best wines Italy offers in the $15-30 price range.

If you want to learn about how to find the best Italian wines, the hidden gems, be sure to check out our FREE “How To Read Italian Wine Labels” training which you can access by clicking here!

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