What is Aglianico Wine?

Aglianico wine is a hidden gem in Italian wines. In our continuing effort to introduce you, the Wine Enthusiast, to interesting and little known wines, this week we talk about Aglianico wine.  As a result, it represents an incredible value for one of Italy’s finest and historic red wines. This grape is among the featured grapes in our Virtual Wine Tasting for June.

Wine Description


Aglianico was believed to be the principal grape variety in the Roman world’s most expensive wine, Falernian. The ancient Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder described wines made from Aglianico as among the greatest.

Aglianico grapes have a tendency to ripen late, with harvests as late as November in some parts of southern Italy. If the winemaker picks the grapes too early the wine can be aggressively tannic. The Aglianico vine seems to thrive in particularly volcanic soils which are found in this region of the country.

The classic Aglianico style makes a wine with a deep garnet color and notable intensity. The wine is full-bodied whose powerful tannins, high acidity, and concentration of fruit give it significant aging potential. Highly tannic in their youth, the wines typically need three to five years of bottle aging before they are drinkable. Its attractive price has earned it the nickname of “the poor man’s Barolo.”


aglianico grape

Regions for Aglianico Wine

In Basilicata, Aglianico is the region’s only DOCG wine (Italy’s highest wine classification).  Aglianico di Vultura wine,  produced on the steep slopes of Mt. Vulture, means that the grapes grow at high altitudes in rich volcanic soil. This preserves acidity, while at the same time slowing the accumulation of sugars, prolonging the ripening or “hang time” of the grapes. Basilicata is among the sunniest areas in Italy. Vineyards here receive more hours of sunshine than just about any other grapes in the world.
Another up and coming growing area in southern Italy is Campania and, along the Campanian coast, the areas of Cilento and Paestum. These areas produce refined, elegant Aglianico wine.  Producers in this area take advantage of the high levels of potassium in the soils to add salinity and freshness to the wine. They typically use lesser amounts of oak aging to produce a more delicate less tannic wine that lets the fruit shine through.

Wine Pairing Suggestions


The rich flavors of Aglianico make it appropriate for pairing with rich meats such as lamb, roasted game meats and even a nice Texas BBQ. In our last post on pairing wines with your grilling, we listed this wine as a more adventurous selection. We hope that, when you give this a try, that you post your comments here or on our Facebook group.