Insights from Drizly’s Top 5 Italian Red Wine Grapes
Sales share for Italian reds is on the rise, and Sangiovese tops the list
Though NielsenIQ off-premise data shows that dollar sales declined for many Italian red varietal wines – including Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Lambrusco – during the 52 weeks ending June 18, 2022, the category saw strong performance on Drizly’s e-commerce marketplace. In the last 12 months, Italian reds accounted for a seven percent share of total red wine category sales on the platform, showing a six percent increase over the previous year.
“Among wine-producing countries,” notes Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, “this makes Italy the second-largest seller of red wines on the platform, behind the United States.”
Not only is the popularity of Italian red wines growing on Drizly, she says, but consumers are also willing to pay more per bottle for these wines compared to the overall red wine average. The average unit price across all red wines sold on the platform is $19.80, yet the average cost for Italian red wines is $21.70. Among the five best-selling Italian red varieties, Sangiovese tops the list with an average unit price of nearly $30.
“Overall,” says Paquette, “there has been significant movement within the top five red Italian varieties sold on Drizly, with Sangiovese and Nebbiolo moving up the list.” During the past 12 months, Sangiovese advanced from the second position to the No. 1 spot, while Montepulciano slipped to No. 3. Nebbiolo, ranked third last year, now holds the No. 2 position.
To help retailers make informed stocking decisions to capitalize on this trend, here are the top five Italian red varietal wines that shoppers are buying on Drizly.
As the basis for Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino wines, dark and savory Sangiovese is perhaps Italy’s most famous red wine grape and the country’s most widely planted variety. The wines range widely in both quality and price – the average unit cost for Sangiovese on Drizly is $29.40 – offering myriad options across the spectrum. The top Sangiovese wines on Drizly include Antinori Tenuta Tignanello Toscana, Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, Monte Antico Toscano, Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino, and Bolla Chianti.
Nebbiolo wines are prized for their perfumed aromas, tannic backbone, and high acidity. Grown in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy – as well as nearby Lombardy – this is the grape behind the county’s powerful Barolo and Barbaresco wines. The average unit price for Nebbiolo on Drizly is $37, making it the highest-priced Italian red wine in the top five. The top Nebbiolo wines on Drizly include Vietti Barolo Castiglione, Pio Cesare Barolo, G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe, Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco, and Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco.
Abruzzo is the region best known for Montepulciano, a grape characterized by soft tannins, low acidity, and ripe fruit flavors. The grape is often used in blends, especially with Sangiovese. The average unit price for Montepulciano on Drizly is $16.50. The top Montepulciano wines on the platform are Zaccagnini Montepulciano, Masciarelli Montepulciano, Vigneti Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Fantine Farnese Montepulciano, and Simonetti Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Juicy and fresh with soft tannins, Barbera is native to Piedmont and is known as the basis for the popular Barbera d’Alba and Barbara d’Asti wines. The grape typically produces fruity wines that are light- to medium-bodied. On Drizly, Barbera’s average unit price is $19. The platform’s top Barbera wines include Vietti Barbera d’Asti, Renato Ratti Barbera d’Asti, G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba, Guidobono Barbera d’Alba, and Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti.
This northern Italian grape – which is actually a family of grapes, to be more precise – from the Emilia-Romagna region is most often used to make fruity, sparkling red wines. The sparkling red wine category remains small, accounting for just 0.5 percent share of the total Champagne and sparkling wine category on Drizly year-to-date. However, Lambrusco is the subcategory’s biggest seller, accounting for 39 percent share of sparkling red wine sales. The average unit price for Lambrusco on Drizly is $11.20. The platform’s top-selling Lambrusco wines include Riunite Lambrusco, Medici Ermete Quercioli Reggiano Lambrusco Dolce, Scarpetta Frico Lambrusco, La Cacciatora Lambrusco, and Denny Bini Lambrusco.