When you think of Italy, you probably think of the food. And when you think of the food, you probably think of the delicious wines that pair perfectly with every meal.
Drinking wine whilst you eat is a very popular cultural tradition across Europe, particularly in Italy.
There, you can find an abundance of vineyards growing all different kinds of native grapes that will eventually be crushed and aged into some truly amazing wines.
In particular, Sardinia is becoming more popular as a destination for wine lovers because of the quality of wines that the island produces every year.
Let’s dive into the rich and fascinating world of Sardinian wines and discover what wine people typically drink in Sardinia.
What Makes Sardinia So Great For Wine?
Why is Italy, and Sardinia in particular, so great for wine? Well, there are a few reasons. First of all, Sardinia exists in a belt of perfect grape-growing conditions.
Grapevines need long, hot summers and rainy winters in order to grow properly, and there are only a few places on earth with the absolutely ideal climates to grow grapes consistently well.
These places exist on the west coast of North America, South America, and, of course, sunny regions of Europe.
Spain, France, Italy, and basically anywhere around the Mediterranean area have the best conditions to grow grapes, which is why these regions are so well known for their wine production.
On Sardinia, you can find cannonau, vermentino, and carignano grapes growing copiously.
These three varieties are very well known for creating rich and delicious wines, but Sardinia is also home to rare species of grapes that are more difficult to find outside of the island.
These include Monica, Malvasia Bianca, Bobal, and Nasco grapes, as well as others.
Sardinia and many places in this belt lean into their wine-making abilities and offer tours and wine-tasting experiences that allow you to get a better understanding of how and why Sardinian wines are so great.
In Sardinia, they even have festivals celebrating local wines and wineries. But what kind of wines can you expect to find on the island?
Well, let’s take a look at some of the more popular wines and where you can enjoy them.
Fun Fact: Sardinia is classed, scientifically, as a blue zone. This means that the life expectancy in this area is higher than average. Many people cite the slow, rural atmosphere of the country for this, as well as the diet of fresh produce and even the wine, as one of the reasons that people live longer in Sardinia.
We wanted to start our list off with the only DOCG wine produced in Sardinia. If you don’t know, DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Designation of Origin and Guaranteed) and is basically an Italian classification that tells consumers where their wine is from and how good it will be.
There are three other classifications below DOCG, making DOCG the highest-ranking wine can receive.
Whilst there are now 74 other wines across Italy with a DOCG classification, Vermentino is the only one to be produced in Sardinia.
This wine has been grown using contemporary and traditional methods for centuries, particularly in the Gallura province on the very northern tip of the island.
There, they adhere to very strict planting, growing, and tending rules in order to ensure that the grapes they produce are the finest in the area.
Though Italian white wines have a reputation for being tangy and acidic, Vermentino is surprisingly free of that sharp edge. That’s not to say that Vermentino isn’t acidic; it’s just more of a refreshing acidity rather than an unpleasant kind.
A glass of Vermentino is sometimes known as a “kiss from the sea” because of the ever-so-slight hint of saltiness that you will encounter.
As well as a touch of saline, you will also detect notes of white flowers, almonds, and lemon as a part of the wine’s bouquet.
If you find yourself in the Gallura province and about to order a seafood meal, make sure you pair it with the best wine in not only the region but the whole island.
Cannonau Di Sardegna
It’s possible that you may have heard this wine by another name. In France, this wine is known as Grenache, and it is thought that the Cannonau grape variety may have actually originated in Sardinia.
There’s no denying that this is the most popular and plentiful wine that you can find on the island; in fact, it makes up about 20% of the bottles of wine available to buy – that’s 1 in every 5 bottles of wine on the entire island being Cannonau Di Sardegna.
Our favorite bottle available at the moment has to be the 2014 Contini Sartiglia Cannonau.
This is a particularly rich and well-rounded glass of wine, with hints of cherries, blackberries, and several different herbs.
These flavors go down smoothly, leaving your palate feeling as though it’s tasted the essence of Sardinia itself.
Something that we love about Cannonau wine is the low acidity levels, making it far more pleasant to drink than some other red wines you can find.
Plus, this wine has a high alcohol content, meaning that you don’t need more than a couple of glasses to feel a buzz.
The best place in Sardinia to get a good glass of Cannonau Di Sardegna is definitely the center of the island, where this variety of grape is more plentiful, particularly in Nuoro and Ogliastra.
If you find yourself in these regions, make sure you get yourself a glass of Cannonau, you certainly won’t regret it!
Finally, we want to talk about Nuragus, a relatively unknown variety of wine that can only be produced in Sardinia because the grapes aren’t grown in any other part of the world.
Even though it grows abundantly across the island, only a very small quantity is actually exported out of Sardinia every year, with the majority of these exports being to Italy.
Though other places in Europe receive a small amount, almost none of the wine is sent to America, which is why you have probably never heard of it.
Nuragus is a bold wine that is dry, acidic, and light-bodied. Although it certainly has a bite to it, it’s perfect for sipping at the end of a long day.
If you like a crisp white wine with the undeniable notes of citrus and green apple, then Nuragus is certainly going to be your new favorite.
Something that we love about this wine is that it’s not expensive.
Whilst the other wines we’ve discussed on this list will run you up about $40 a bottle, Nuragus generally comes in at less than $15. This is because it doesn’t need to be aged or chilled, making it much easier to produce and distribute.
S’Elegas Nuragus di Cagliari is a well-renowned brand of this white wine, which is known for being a softer variety with hints of honey and melon whilst still maintaining its high alcohol content.
Because of the rarity of this wine outside of Sardinia, if you find yourself on the island, you have to make sure that you get to try at least one glass of Nuragus whilst you’re there. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
Further reading: What else do people in Sardinia drink?
As we mentioned earlier, there are loads of different varieties of grapes and wines that are produced on the island, but these three are by far the most popular.
However, if you want to know more about the alternative wines that you can find in Sardinia, then you can always see what wine-tasting experiences or winery tours are going on during the time that you’re staying in Sardinia.
Wine is such a major aspect of the culture over in Sardinia; the many vineyards across the island are practically a must-see attraction.
One experience that we recommend is Cantine Pala if you’re visiting the southern coast of Sardinia.
Alternatively, if you’re further north or towards the west coast, you could check out Sella e Mosca in Alghero for an unforgettable wine-tasting and vineyard touring experience.
Or, if you’re looking for a more sociable affair, then you can always head to one of the many local wine festivals that go on throughout the summer.
For example, in May, Cantine Aperte in Serdiana puts on a veritable wine-hopping extravaganza for a weekend that would make for some amazing stories.
Or Sagra del Vino Novello, a celebration of new wine, goes on in the province of Oristano at the end of each August.
It doesn’t matter much what kind of wine you like the best, there will be something you can fall in love with in Sardinia’s vast collection of different wines, so pour yourself a glass and enjoy!