Last updated on February 21st, 2024
Are you planning on bringing Italian wine home as a souvenir or gift? That’s great because Italy makes some of the best wine in the world! But where should you go to buy wine in Italy?
I have all the answers you are looking for! I have lived in Italy for over 12 years now, drinking and buying wine from the day I arrived. No matter your location, agenda, budget or how much time you have in Italy, I will help you find the best place to buy your vino italiano.
In this article, I will explain:
- the six best places you can buy wine in Italy
- when you may buy wine
- what else to buy with your Italian wine
- phrases and vocabulary that come in handy when ordering and drinking wine in Italy
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Best For: Largest curated selection of wines
Consider Buying: Sweet wines as well such as grappa or Vin Santo.
An enoteca (plural form enoteche) is the equivalent of a wine bar in Italian. Its primary job is to offer a wide selection of open wines that you can try by the glass but it also acts as a well stocked wine store.
Most Italians come to enoteche for an aperitivo but they generally hold hours from around 11:00 am to 9:00 pm without a closing lunch break in the afternoon.
The staff at an enoteca will have extensive knowledge of what they stock and sell so even if you don’t want to sit down for a glass of wine and a small snack, you can pop in quickly to get a recommendation for a bottle to-go based on what you like.
Best For: Wine tastings and memorable experiences (also with kids)
Consider Also Buying: The winery’s olive oil
Wineries are the best place to buy wines while fully supporting the actual wine producer. In wine sales, much of the profit for the winery is cut when they work through reps, agents and overseas.
If you can manage to get directly to the winery and try some of the wine, the producers are making all the profit. I always love to support local Italian wineries in my area (in this case from Cetona and San Casciano dei Bagni in Southern Tuscany), but anywhere in Tuscany makes me happy.
At many wineries, you can stop in without a reservation to buy wines directly from the estate. If you would like to book a formal tasting with local products and a wine tour, it’s best to pre-book your visit via email or by phone.
For my personal Southern Italian winery recommendations, be sure to read my in-depth reviews of:
Best For: A wide selection of affordable wines
Consider Also Buying: Some of our favorite Italian snacks that you can find at the grocery store
Grocery stores are extremely well stocked in terms of all kinds of wine, no matter your preference. Note that the larger the grocery store, the better the selection. Regional grocery stores are going to give priority to locally produced wines.
For example, If you are in Montalcino, many of the wines you will find for sale at the commercial grocery stores will be from Montalcino. Similarly, if you are in Montepulciano, the most showcased wines will be the rosso di Montepulciano wine.
An alimentari is a very small local grocery store, usually family-run and full of regional products, including locally produced wines from the surrounding vineyards.
Because it’s so small and usually staffed with just one or two people, they really know their products and can’t afford to stock bad things. Although the prices might be slightly higher, you know that what you can get at an alimentari will generally be of good quality and beloved by the owners.
Stores like this are also willing to help you find exactly what you are looking for, even if they don’t stock it. Don’t be afraid to ask for something they don’t have because they will know where to find it!
Best For: Impromptu purchases
Consider Also Buying: No suggestions here, but because restaurants are not stores and usually don’t have products for sale, consider tipping your waiter if you really enjoyed their service or wine suggestions.
Not all restaurants are going to sell wine but many will. I suggest buying wine from a restaurant after you have purchased the bottle with your meal and greatly enjoyed it with the food you have ordered.
Restaurants sometimes won’t sell the wine “to-go”, even if it’s unopened but it’s always worth asking. Even if you take a picture of the label and search for it later, you might not find it as restaurants have access to a larger wine selection than a typical grocery store. If you really like it, just ask before leaving!
Best For: Drinking and buying what the locals like
An Italian bar is a really awesome cafè that is open literally all day from early in the morning to after dinner. The Italian bar serves everything from breakfast and coffee to lunch, snacks, aperitivo and after dinner drinks, including wine at all hours of the day.
The reason I am adding the bar to this list of where to buy wine in Italy is because in the nicest bars throughout Italy, mainly in tourist areas and large cities, there should also be a selection of wines for sale, usually regional.
This is, however, not always the case. If you just pop into any old bar on the corner of the street, you probably won’t find wine for sale (but you can order a glass and try it!). If, on the other hand, you are at a famous bar such as Gilli in Florence, you will certainly find wine for sale.
Good To Know: I would not count on a bar to buy wine at (say if you are trying to get a last minute gift for a friend before leaving Italy).
How To Buy Wine In Italy
No matter where you are, you might want to learn some helpful vocabulary to ease the process. Here are some common phrases or exchanges you might hear and have when buying wine in Italy:
Buongiorno, avete vino in vendita qui?
“Good Morning, do you have wine for sale here?
Mi potrebbe consigliare una bottiglia di rosso e una di bianco da portare a casa?
“Could you recommend a bottle of red and a bottle of white to bring home with me?
Vorrei comprare due bottiglie di vino rosso di montalcino e una bottiglia piccola del vostro olio di oliva, per favore.
“I would like to buy two bottles of Montalcino red wine and a small bottle of your olive oil, please.”
Sarebbe possibile spedire all’estero? Vivo in America ma non ho posto nella valigia per il vino.
“Would it be possible to ship abroad? I live in America but don’t have space in my luggage for wine.”
Tip: If you are buying Italian wines to bring home with you, it’s nice to get a wooden box as well which will prevent the wine from breaking and makes for a beautiful gift.
Helpful Vocabulary For Buying Wine In Italy
|I would like…
|Potete spedire all’estero?
|poh-teh-teh speh-dee-reh ahl-eh-steh-roh
|Can you ship abroad?
|How much does it cost?
|una scatola (di legno)
|oon-ah skah-toh-lah (dee leh-noh)
|a box (wooden)
|May I purchase?
|I like it
|Non mi piace
|non mee pee-ah-cheh
|I don’t like it
Where To Buy Wine In Italy FAQ
The best place to buy wine in Italy is either from a wine bar, called an enoteca, directly from a winery or from a grocery store, which will stock the vastest collection of both Italian and foreign wines. You can also sometimes buy wine from alimentari, restaurants and bars in Italy.
Yes, you can but technically speaking, you can only bring back 1 liter per person duty-free. Please check individual laws and regulations for your home country and be sure to double check the official US customs website for the most updated rules and restrictions.