Best Sicilian Wine to Drink Right Now | Wine Enthusiast
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Sicilian Wines Are Better Than Ever. Here Are 9 to Try Now.

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We all know and love a good Chianti from Tuscany or Italian Pinot Grigio, but wines from Italy’s largest island, Sicily, deserve equal international recognition. Sicilian wines were once thought of as funky, rustic wines, in search of an identity in the marketplace—but that’s no longer the case.

“In fact, so much of wine coming out of Sicily, especially right now, is quite nuanced, approachable and speaks volumes to the terroir that we’re talking about without shouting at you,” says Danielle Callegari, Wine Enthusiast writer at large and Italian wine reviewer. “It’s a place that has a lot of great wine in many, many different forms. They are slowly becoming better known on the American market, but they still have a lot of room to be appreciated, yet.”

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Indeed, Sicily has all the elements of a spectacular winemaking region. “[It has] high-quality local grapes, varied climates and some incredible soils,” says Joe Campanale, co-owner of Fausto, LaLou and Bar Vinazo in New York and author of VINO: The Essential Guide to Real Italian Wine. “[It also has] a long winemaking history and a new generation of talented and passionate winemakers who are producing some unique world-class wines.”

Of course, not all bottles are worth picking up. “Sicily makes some of the most exquisite wines in Italy—some of the most avant-garde wines as well—but not everything is good there,” stresses Campanale. “You still need to taste carefully and know the producers behind the labels.”

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about Sicilian wines and nine of our current favorite bottles to get you started.

What Grapes Are Used in Sicilian Wine?

“Due to Sicily’s varied climate, geography, location and history, Sicily grows an abundance of native and international grapes,” Campanale says.

Some popular varieties to look for are the white grapes Grillo and Carricante.“Grillo, which was best known for making Marsala, makes a soft and round white wine at a moderate alcohol,” he says. Meanwhile, Carricante is used in Etna Bianco, a class of “mineral-driven white wines.”

When it comes to red grapes, Frappato, Nerello Mascalese and Nero d’Avola are popular, local varieties that are often used in single-varietal bottlings across the island, Callegari says.

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“Frappato makes aromatic, fruit-forward and juicy reds,” Campanale adds. “Nerello Mascalese can produce red wines that are some of Italy’s greatest. They are earthy, complex and age-worthy. They rival some of the world’s best wines at a fraction of the price.”

Nero d’Avola, in particular, has recently surged in popularity. “It wasn’t always being produced in the most sophisticated and elegant way,” Callegari says. “Lately, it has been given some really great attention and several producers have been bringing the best of Sicily out of their vineyards.”

What Are Common Sicilian Wine Regions?

Sicilian wines largely come from the regions of Mount Etna, Vittoria, Marsala and Pantelleria, Campanale says.

Mount Etna, on the northeast corner of the island, is known for Etna Rosso and Etna Bianco and has “taken the international market by storm,” Callegari says.

“These are earthy wines that can be very elegant and age-worthy,” Campanale adds. “Even the simpler wines are on the savory side with loads of acidity and minerality.”

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Vittoria produces large amounts of Frappato and Nero d’Avola. “The wines from here have more pronounced fruit notes,” says Campanale. “They are also often surprisingly light-bodied for how ripe they can taste and the fact that they’re made in the south of a Mediterranean island,” he says.

Though once known for fortified sweet wines, Marsala is an up-and-coming region that makes orange wines, crisp whites, pet-nats and some older-fashioned fortified wines.

Pantelleria has “an interesting and growing natural wine movement,” according to Campanale. But it’s still mostly known for dessert wines made with Moscato grapes, known as Zibibbo, he adds.

9 Sicilian Wines to Try

Benanti 2016 Serra della Contessa Alberello Centenario Red (Etna)

Bricks, fresh soil, grilled meat, plums and cherries on the nose almost manage to keep sweeter notes of vanilla and milk chocolate hidden. These get their time to shine on the palate, with more berries lifted up by orange zest and a chili pepper kick. 94 Points  —Danielle Callegari

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Cusumano 2017 Noà Red (Sicilia)

Freshly poured tar leaps out of the glass, with itinerant aromas of crushed rocks, graphite, flint and gun smoke, before a glimpse of berries and wild mint. Mint chocolate and dark berries on the palate of this wine sit on the foundation of tar and rocks. Peppery heat and taut tannins make for a statuesque body. 93 Points  —D.C. 

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Palmento Costanzo 2017 Contrada Santo Spirito Red (Etna)

A rich but fresh nose on this wine offers soil, crushed stones, pencil shavings, cherries and bitter chocolate. The palate reiterates these notes, emphasizing cherries and chocolate. A cordial-like finish gets its contour from firm tannins and palpable acid. 93 Points  —D.C.

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Feudo Montoni NV Passito Bianco White (Terre Siciliane)

Apricot jelly, chamomile and honey show on the nose of this wine, with notes of pennies and a quick blast of herbs at the end. The palate offers dense apricot cake soaked in syrup with candied orange peel and toasted hazelnuts. Although the wine is indulgently sweet, it’s not without freshness. 92 Points  —D.C.

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Feudo Montoni NV Passito Rosso Red (Terre Siciliane)

Medicinal, herbaceous aromas of eucalyptus and tea leaves on the nose of this wine leave space for cherries and raspberries that announce a burst of berries on the palate. The wine also offers hibiscus tea notes and a coffee grind finish. 92 Points  —D.C.

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Terra Costantino 2018 Contrada Blandano Riserva Red (Etna)

Smoky aromas waft off the nose before notes of very fresh, slightly green, tiny wild strawberries and a hint of umami saltiness. Salty smokiness carries over to the palate of this wine, where more ripe but crisp wild berry flavors come through, outlined by chalky but pliable tannins. 92 Points  —D.C.

$43 Vivino

Palmento Costanzo 2020 Bianco di Sei White (Etna)

A rich nose of apples and pears offers toasted nuts and a bit of light, buttery pastry. The palate of this wine turns more citrusy but maintains the depth and toastiness of cooked apples, pears and pastry. Acid rolls over the tongue through a lingering finish. 92 Points  —D.C.

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Palmento Costanzo 2018 Mofete Red (Etna)

A light-catching garnet in the glass, this wine offers a restrained, alluring nose of tar, rose petals, wild strawberries and a fleeting note of fennel fronds. Acid streaks down the palate before strawberries, cherries and raspberries settle in, progressing toward a finale of espresso with a piece of dark chocolate and orange zest. 92 Points  —D.C.

$28 Wine.com

Tasca d’Almerita 2020 Tenuta Regaleali Vigna San Francesco Chardonnay Chardonnay (Sicilia)

This wine offers a delicate nose of green apples and peach blossoms, with salty notes of quartz, sea grass and a squeeze of lemon. The palate turns savory and warm, with toasted cumin seeds and an almost electric acid. 92 Points  —D.C.

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FAQs

Where Can I Buy Sicilian Wines?

You can find Sicilian wines at most wine shops, but an Italian-focused shop or wine bar is likely to have a larger selection.

How Does Sicily’s Terroir Impact Wine?

From volcanic soils on Mount Etna to sandy grounds near the water, Sicily has a varied terroir. As the largest island in Italy, it has multiple climates and microclimates that make the wines “endlessly interesting,” Campanale says.

What Foods Should You Pair with Sicilian Wines?

This largely depends on the specific wine you’re drinking, as Sicilian wines can vary greatly. Callegari says a good rule of thumb is pairing Sicilian wines with more traditional Sicilian foods. “Sicilian cuisine is strongly influenced by the long presence of Arabic communities, so North Africans and Near Eastern ingredients work well.” Think sweet and sour ingredients, dried fruits, nuts and difficult-to-pair vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants.

But overall, the wine is incredibly versatile and can be paired with many different foods. “It tends to have the quality you want when you’re looking for an option to pair that can be a jack of all trades,” she says.

At his restaurant, Fausto, Campanale likes to pair orecchiette with braised pork with a glass of Frappato, a juicy and fresh red. For something lighter, he pairs Etna Bianco with wood oven-roasted black bass with corn and local cherry tomatoes.

What Does Sicilian Wine Taste Like?

This varies greatly based on the type of wine. “[Generally] they’re acidic, refreshing, they have enough alcohol to be structured and substantial, but not overwhelming or overblown,” Callegari says.


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All products featured here are independently selected by our team, which is comprised of experienced writers and wine tasters and overseen by editorial professionals at Wine Enthusiast headquarters. All ratings and reviews are performed blind in a controlled setting and reflect the parameters of our 100-point scale. Wine Enthusiast does not accept payment to conduct any product review, though we may earn a commission on purchases made through links on this site. Prices were accurate at the time of publication.