A guide to the Umbrian wine region.
A holiday exploring Umbria through its wine is full of history,
Stroll through neat rows of grape vines under the warm glow of the Italian sun.
Take photos of Umbria’s medieval castles that have been restored into modern vineyards.
And tour the ancient wine cellars that have been protecting wine barrels for centuries, with their sweet fumes from fermenting grapes, causing tipsiness with every inhale.
Even if you don’t drink wine and a tour through the Umbrian wine region is worth it.
One of the pleasures of exploring Italy is trying the different regional wines. It’s a great way to meet locals, at vineyards or at restaurants. At any osteria or trattoria ask your waiter for a glass, or a bottle, of local wine. Normally a house
If you’re looking for a piece of Italy to take home, a bottle of wine is perfect. I like to buy a few bottles from a vineyard, instead of the airport, to pull out a picture of the estate and tell a little story about where it comes from. We’ll bring it with us in checked luggage but vineyards make it easy to order and ship bottles home.
Not sure how much to focus on wine? Exploring the Umbria wine region can be as simple as a relaxing afternoon sipping a glass of wine while drinking in a mountain view.
Or a conversation with a waiter about the local wines on offer. Delve a little deeper into Umbria’s best wines, cheeses, cured meats, and the olive oils by taking a wine tour, by either renting car or with a tour group.
Basic Wine Vocabulary in Italian
Cin Cin Cheers! In Italian
Passito is a sweet dessert wine. Similar to ice wine but for a warmer climate, the grapes are at least partially dried, becoming raisins. Made first by the Greeks, the Romans and the Arabs also made wines like this, and not much has changed.
The grapes are dried on straw in the sun or in the dark creating different flavors and sweetnesses of the passito. Served after dinner with biscotti (dry cookies you dip in the wine) in Umbria look for Sagrantino di Montefalco or a Vin Santo from Trasimeno.
Secco means dry in Italian. Prosecco (a name of a town) is a dry bubbly white wine perfect for a predinner drink. Originating from Trieste, it grows in Veneto (Venice) and around Milan. Prosecco is also one of the main ingredients of a Spritz or Aperol, great in the warmer months.
Not a common wine in Umbria, this is any sparkling wine: sweet, dry, from Spain, Italy or France.
‘Young wine’ or wine intended to be drunk young. Vino Novello is a red wine that is light and fruity. The alcohol percentage is lower than other wines. Available for sale on Oct 30, it doesn’t age well and traditionally isn’t drunk (or sold) after January 31. It’s a great reason to visit in late autumn or early winter.
Vino Rosso red wine
Vino Bianco white wine
Umbria Wine Region
Umbria is so similar in climate to Tuscany it’s hard to understand why one province has such famous wines and the other not.
The biggest reason why wine grown in Umbria isn’t as famous as Tuscan wine is because of the Umbrian people themselves. They have always made wine for themselves, their friends and the church. And they enjoy being
Commercial operations didn’t begin until the 1960s. It’s one thing that makes Umbria such a nice place to visit. Umbria is a quiet, unpretentious area were people take great pride in their work.
Like the rest of Italy, the wine of Umbria pairs well with the local Umbrian cuisine. Strong bold red wines go great with the wild boar or truffles. Crisp whites and roses with grilled vegetables smothered in local olive oil.
Wine in Italy isn’t meant to be drunk on its own.
Enjoyed all year round, Umbria has many varieties of wines, which vary from budget bottles to high-end vintages. You can find local red, white, sweet and bubbly wines; with a seemingly endless amount of types and vineyards to try.
There are award winning red and white wines throughout the province and even a few roses and sparkling wines.
Visit a Cantina for a Wine T
To learn about how wine is made a good idea is to book a tour.
Tours include tasting the wines that a cantina produces. In the Umbria wine region, I recommend Gusto Wine Tours run by an English couple.
Lots of fun, you’ll learn all about tasting wine and the basics of how it’s made. All while visiting small family run organic vineyards that aren’t easy to find yourself….and without worrying about who’ll be the designated driver!
Cantinas Around Umbria I Love
Looking for some
Wanting to visit Montefalco but like white wine better? Cantina Valdangius have a fab Trebbiano Spoletino, which is now my favourite white wine.
Visiting Orvieto? There are many cantinas here with great white wines. I enjoy the wines from Decugnano
For Perugia, I recommend visiting Lungarotti in Torgiano. This cantina has sold their wine in the 1960s and today is run by two sisters. https://lungarotti.it/eng/
Deciphering the Government Classifications for Italian Wines
A cantina can apply for official quality controls by a government agency. The agency tests and gives out classifications for wines and there are labels on the bottles to distinguish them from others. These classifications include: DO, DOC or DOCG. Used for quality control, the most important part is the location of where a wine is grown and made.
The most common is a DOC (said like the abbreviation of doctor) and means Denominazione di Origine. A DOCG, Denominazione di Origine e Garantita, must be analysed and tasted by government officials before being bottled.
This doesn’t mean that a bottle without a DOC or DOCG label is bad, or that the quality of
A good example are many the quality wines in Tuscany called the ‘Super Tuscans.’ As they didn’t qualify for DOCs they created a different system, the IGT. This certifies that a bottle of wine is grown and made in Tuscany, or another region, but it isn’t a traditional wine from the region.
To add on an even stricter set of rules and tests cantinas can also apply for organic certification, or in Italian,
The Umbria Wine Regions DOCs
An area of Umbria which excels in white wines is around Orvieto. They have been growing grapes for wine as far back as the Etruscans. The Orvieto DOC is a combination of two types of grapes: the Grechetto and the Trebbiano.
The soft volcanic rock is in the area, called Tuffo, makes for great wine growing soil, it’s also easily carved out. People have been creating cellars to keep wine cool in the hot summer months for thousands of years.
Red wines of Umbria can be DOCG wines, like the Montefalco Sagrantino and the Torgiano Rosso Riserva. The Sagrantino grape is considered a traditional Umbrian grape, it doesn’t share the same genetics of other Italian grapes. The story goes that Franciscan monks brought these grapes to Umbria in the 10th century from their travels to Muslim countries.
Until the 1970s the Sagrantino grape was used mostly used in religious ceremonies or as a Passito, a sweet red dessert wine. The grape has the highest tannins of any wine and has health benefits like dark chocolate. It pairs well with the local wild boar.
Tasting the Wine of Umbria
Don’t have time for any wine tastings? The next best thing is to find a wine bar. I and all of our visitors enjoy a glass of wine before dinner at Civico 25 in Perugia. Stay for dinner as the cooking is also excellent. They have a great selection of Umbria wines, good food and speak English!
Many cantinas also make olive oil, like Lungarotti or any near Montefalco. When trying wines a cantina should bread, olive oil, meats, and cheeses to pair with the wines, and water.
Bring the Wines of Umbria Home
Something that friends have enjoyed