Parla Vino? How to Pronounce Italian Wine Names

KEE-what? Don't worry, it's not all that hardHow do you pronounce Prosecco Valdobbiadene? How about Amarone della Valpolicella?

Italian wine names can sometimes befuddle wine lovers. Even I have to slow-down-and-sound-it-out when I come across new regional wine names that don’t just roll off the tongue.

Take heart, learning how to pronounce the most common Italian wine names is pretty straightforward if you follow a few basic rules on Italian pronunciation.  And just for fun, I’ve included audio tracks for the top 100 or so Italian wine names so you can practice. A budding Sommelier in training will also find these audio tracks helpful.

All together now, "kee-AHN-tee"...Class time!
Italian 101.

Let’s take a minute, get a little geeky and learn a couple of basic rules for pronouncing Italian wine names:

  • In Italian, you pronounce every letter, and every letter has exactly one sound.  Well, there are a couple of exceptions (see below).
  • Unlike English vowels which have 2 sounds (for example, long-A and short-A), there’s only one sound for Italian vowels:
    • A makes the “ah” sound – just like the English short-A
    • E makes the “ay” sound – just like the English long-A
    • I makes the “ee” sound – just the English long-E
    • O makes the “oh” sound – just like the English long-O
    • U makes the “oo” sound – just like the English long-U
  • The letters CH and GH together make a “hard” sound:
    • CH makes a hard K sound, like in Brachetto, which is pronounced “bra-KAY-toh”
    • GH makes a hard G sound, like in Falanghina, which is pronounced “fah-lawn -GHEE-nah”
  • There are no silent letters in Italian, but when GL and GN are together, they make a special sound:
    • GL together makes the “lyah” sound, like in Aglianico, which is pronounced “ahl-YAH-nee-ko”
    • GN together makes the “nyah” sound, like in Carmignano, which is pronounced “kar-min-YAH-no”

Pop a cork and grab a glass of vino and let's practice!Clear as mud?
Practice makes perfect.

Okay, pop a cork and grab a glass of your favorite Italian wine and let’s practice speaking the most common Italian wine names.  I’ve pulled together a list below and provided audio tracks so you can hear me pronounce the name, and I’ve included the phonetic spelling so you can sound it out.

Note that the phonetic spelling I’ve provided is intended to make it easy to read & pronounce for Americans. If you’re an expert in the Italian language or linguistics and think a name should be pronounced differently, then share your wisdom!  Add your recommendation to the Reply section at the bottom of this page and I’ll update the list.  You may want to bookmark this page for future reference.

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Ciao!
  — Michael


Pronunciation of Popular Italian Wine Names

A

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Aglianico ahl-YAH-nee-ko Red
Aglianico del Taburno ahl-YAH-nee-ko • del • tah-BOOR-no Red
Aglianico del Vulture ahl-YAH-nee-ko • del • VOOL-too-ray Red
Amarone ah-mah-ROH-nay Red
Amarone della Valpolicella ah-mah-ROH-nay • day-lah • val-po-lee-CHAY-lah Red

B

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Barbaresco bar-bah-RAY-sko Red
Barbera bar-BAY-rah Red
Barbera d’Alba bar-BAY-rah • DAHL-bah Red
Barbera d’Asti bar-BAY-rah • DAH-stee Red
Bardolino bar-do-LEE-no Red
Bardolino Novello bar-do-LEE-no • no-VAY-lo Red
Bardolino Superiore bar-do-LEE-no • soo-pay-ree-OR-ray Red
Barolo bah-ROH-lo Red
Bolgheri BOHL-gay-ree Red
Brachetto bra-KAY-toh White
Brachetto d’Acqui bra-KAY-toh • DAH-kwee Red
Brunello broo-NAY-lo Red
Brunello di Montalcino broo-NAY-lo • dee • mon-tall-CHEE-no Red

C

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Cannonau KAH-nohn-now Red
Cannonau di Sardegna KAH-nohn-now • dee • sahr-DAYN-yah Red
Carmignano kar-min-YAH-no Red
Cerasuolo chair-ah-SWOH-lo Rosato
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo chair-ah-SWOH-lo • dah-BROOT-zo Rosato
Cerasuolo di Vittoria chair-ah-SWOH-lo • dee • vee-toh-ree-ah Rosato
Cesanese chay-sah-NAY-zay Red
Cesanese del Piglio chay-sah-NAY-zay • dayl • PEEL-yo Red
Chianti Classico kee-AHN-tee • KLAH-see-ko Red
Cinque Terre CHEEN-kway • TAY-ray White
Ciro CHEE-roh Red
Cortese di Gavi kor-TAY-zay • dee • GAH-vee White

D

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Dolcetto dohl-CHAY-toh Red
Dolcetto di Dogliani dohl-CHAY-toh • dee • dohl-YAH-nee Red

E

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Erbaluce air-bah-LOO-chay White
Erbaluce di Caluso air-bah-LOO-chay • dee • kah-LOO-zo White
Etna Bianco ATE-nah • bee-AHN-ko White
Etna Rosso ATE-nah • ROH-so Red

F

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Falanghina fah-lawn -GHEE-nah White
Fiano di Avellino fee-AH-no • dee • ah-vay-LEE-no White
Franciacorta frahn-chah-COR-tah Sparkling
Frascati frah-SKAH-tee White
Frascati Superiore frah-SKAH-tee • soo-pay-ree-OR-ray White
Friulano free-oo-LAH-no White

G

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Gattinara gah-tee-NAH-rah Red
Gavi GAH-vee White
Greco di Tufo GRAY-ko • dee • TOO-fo White

L

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Lacryma Christi lah-KREE-mah • KREE-stee White
Lambrusco lahm-BROO-sko Red

M

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Malvasia mahl-vah-ZEE-ah Sweet
Montecucco mon-tay-KOO-ko Red
Montepulciano mon-tay-pool-chee-AH-no Red
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo mon-tay-pool-chee-AH-no • dah-BROOT-zo Red
Morellino di Scansano moh-ray-LEE-no • dee • scahn-ZAH-no Red
Moscato moh-SKAH-toh White
Moscato d’Asti moh-SKAH-toh • DAH-stee Sparkling
Moscato di Pantelleria moh-SKAH-toh • dee • pan-tay-lay-REE-ah Sweet

N

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Nebbiolo nay-bee-OH-lo Red
Nebbiolo d’Alba nay-bee-OH-lo • DAHL-bah Red
Negroamaro nay-grow-ah-MAH-ro Red

O

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Orvieto Classico or-vee-AY-toh • KLAH-see-ko Red

P

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Pigato pee-GAH-toh White
Pinot Nero PEE-no • NAY-ro White
Pinot Bianco PEE-no • bee-AHN-ko White
Pinot Grigio PEE-no • GREE-jo White
Primitivo pree-mee-TEE-vo Red
Prosecco pro-SAY-ko Sparkling
Prosecco Valdobbiadene pro-SAY-ko • vahl-doh-bee-ah-DAY-nay Sparkling

R

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Recioto di Soave ray-CHEE-oh-toh • dee • so-AH-vay White
Recioto di Valpolicella ray-CHEE-oh-toh • dee • vahl-po-lee-CHAY-lah Red
Roero Arneis roh-AIR-roh • ar-NAYZ White
Rosso Conero ROH-so • ko-NAY-roh Red
Rosso Piceno ROH-so • pee-CHAY-no Red
Rosso Salento ROH-so • sah-LAYN-toh Red

S

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Sagrantino sah-grahn-TEE-no Red
Sagrantino di Montefalco sah-grahn-TEE-no • dee • mon-tee-FAHL-ko Red
Salice Salentino sah-LEE-chay • sah-len-TEE-no Red
Sangiovese di Romagna sahn-gee-oh-VAY-zay • dee • ro-MAHN-yah Red
Sciacchetra shah-kay-TRAH Sweet
Soave soo-AH-vay White
Soave Superiore soo-AH-vay • soo-pay-ree-OR-ray White

T

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Taurasi taow-RAH-zee Red

V

Wine Name Pronunciation Type
Valpolicella val-po-lee-CHAY-lah Red
Valpolicella Classico val-po-lee-CHAY-lah • KLAH-see-ko Red
Valpolicella Superiore val-po-lee-CHAY-lah • soo-pay-ree-OR-ray Red
Valtellina val-tay-LEE-nah Red
Valtellina Superiore val-tay-LEE-nah • soo-pay-ree-OR-ray Red
Verdicchio vair-DEE-kee-oh White
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi vair-DEE-kee-oh • day • kah-STAY-lee • dee • YAY-zee White
Verdicchio di Matelica vair-DEE-kee-oh • dee • mah-TAY-lee-kah White
Vermentino vair-men-TEE-no White
Vermentino di Gallura vair-men-TEE-no • dee • gah-LOO-rah White
Vernaccia di San Gimignano vair-NAH-chah • dee • san • jim-min-YAH-no White
Vin Santo veen • SAN-toh Sweet
Vino Nobile VEE-noh • NOH-bee-lay Red
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano VEE-noh • NOH-bee-lay • dee • mon-tay-pool-chee-AH-no Red

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6 Responses to “Parla Vino? How to Pronounce Italian Wine Names”

  1. Jeff Clemente 10 Oct 13 at 2:40 PM #

    Great post Michael. Don’t forget the ever popular gar-gah-NAY-gah!

    • Profile photo of Michael Horne
      Michael Horne 11 Oct 13 at 12:57 AM #

      Of course! Tasty in Soave.

      I’m thinking of doing a follow-up post on Italian grape varietals. A few Sommelier candidates have been asking for an all-in-one-place guide to pronouncing Italian wines and grapes.

      Cheers!
      Michael

  2. Roy Ingle 25 Jun 14 at 1:00 PM #

    This was a very informative visit & I thank U 4 the good information. I’m certainly no expert but I noticed something cruising through your phonetic spelling chart that seems off-key. The word “Sciacchetra” is phonetically spelled as “shah – kee – trah” but I imagine U intended that 2 B “shah – kay – trah” (?). I was surprised 2 discover that just dumbing my way through your list I was on target most of the time which was gratifying. One problem area 4 me is when 2 use the “ch” sound with a c followed by vowels. I know “ciao”, “duce”, etc., but what about ca, co, & cu? Am I correct in assuming those are always pronounced with a hard c? And do the Italians always roll their “r”s whether it’s a single or double? Thanx in advance.

  3. Profile photo of Michael Horne
    Michael Horne 25 Jun 14 at 1:07 PM #

    Ciao Roy — yep, you’re right, the phonetic for Sciacchetra should be “shah-kay-TRAH.” I’ve made the correction, thanks for catching the error!

    For “ca” and “co” and “cu” combinations, you are correct — you use the hard C sound (“kuh”, not “chuh”). So Cannonau is “KAH-nohn-now”, Colpetrone is “Kohl-pay-TROH-nay”, and Cuore is “coo-OH-ray.”

    On the rolling of the R’s, yes — generally the R is rolled for both single and double letters, but often for a single R it can be cut short. Generally any doubling of a letter indicates that you sound it for a longer period of time, so a double-R is rolled longer than a single-R. Hope that helps.

    Cheers.
    Michael

  4. Roy Ingle 27 Jun 14 at 9:09 PM #

    Michael: Thanks so much 4 the thumbnail education in Italian pronunciation. It really helps me, with my limited knowledge, 2 @ least be able 2 read it & attempt translation. What a lyrical language it is. I love 2 hear it spoken by native tongues although, as with Spanish or French, it flows by faster than I can think. A friend owns a boutique wine shop & I sometimes work 4 him so he can take time off. It has been interesting 2 absorb information about the wine regions of Italy, France & Spain & the grapes/wines produced by them. The more I learn the more I realize how little I knew & how much there is 2 be learned. Having visited all 3 I seem most drawn 2 the Italian culture & language. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge of it with us so freely.

    Arrivederci!

  5. Profile photo of Michael Horne
    Michael Horne 7 Jul 14 at 7:04 PM #

    Ciao Roy — no problem, always happy to share the fun in Italian wines!

    Cheers.
    Michael

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