Etna Rosso

Etna is all about power and elegance, conquering the international spotlight due to Etna wines.

Etna Rosso is a “volcanic” dry red wine produced with two types of Nerello grapes grown at the foot of Mount Etna that give it a warm, fresh, berry flavor that is distinctly acidic. The prestigious Etna DOC is well-known for making excellent wines. However, Etna Rosso can easily be considered not just one of the best Sicilian wines but also one of the best Italian wines.

mount etna in sicily

This distinct wine, which embodies the character of its native region perfectly, isn’t easy to find — but your search is worth the effort. What do you need to know about Etna Rosso and the Etna DOC before you have a taste of Sicily?

What Is the Etna DOC?

The Etna DOC covers the region on the northern, eastern, and southern slopes of Mount Etna — Europe’s largest active volcano. Vines cultivated in this area grow at elevations ranging from 1,000 to 3,900 feet. Etna DOC wines are some of the best Sicilian wines and have become sought-after across the globe. Despite Sicily being so warm, the elevation of these vineyards means the wines are ripe and very refreshing.

Etna Rosso wines must be made up of a minimum of 80 percent Nerello Mascalese grapes. The remainder, up to 20 percent, is comprised of Nerello Cappuccio. These dry red wines must have an alcohol content of 12.5 percent to earn the Etna Rosso designation.

The Etna DOC does not have aging requirements, and you can enjoy young and mature Etna Rosso wines, but those aged for at least four years may earn a “riserva” label. Aged Etna Rosso wines have to spend at least one year in a wooden vessel and attain an ABV of 13 percent. However, even young Etna Rosso wines appear more mature than they are when you catch a whiff of their aromas.

What Grapes are used in Etna Rosso Wines?

Etna Rosso wines are primarily made with two types of Nerello grapes, both of which are exclusively grown in the region.

red grapes of Nerello Mascalese in the farm

Nerello Mascalese is a pale red grape believed to have originated in Catania, or more specifically, Mascali. These grapes produce medium-acidity wines with complex flavor profiles that include sweet cherry, wild strawberry, leather, and floral notes, cinnamon. While it is the primary red grape in the Etna DOC, Nerello Mascalese is also used in Faro wines.

Up to 20 percent Nerello Cappuccio is permitted in Etna Rosso wines. These darker red grapes give the wines some color while simultaneously adding touches of berries, minerals, and fragrant herbs. Primarily used in blends, Nerello Cappuccio has become a relatively rare grape.

Other aromatic grapes can make up a maximum of 10 percent of Etna Rosso wines.

What does Etna Rosso taste like?

If you like Pinot Noir a Barolo, you’ll love red wines from Etna Rosso, with their typical pale colour, elegant and powerful.

Etna Rosso is a dry, medium-bodied wine with a medium/high, refreshing acidity level. Your first taste will reveal hints of wild strawberries and cherries, but you may also experience a delightful mix of spices like cinnamon, anise, and vanilla. When aged, the tannins soften and leather and tobacco notes come out.

Etna Rosso pairs well with goat cheese, meaty stews, or fatty tuna dishes. These wines also combine excellently with pasta or chicken dishes.

Etna Rosso FAQ

What kind of wine is Etna Rosso?
Etna Rosso DOC is a delightful red wine made with two Sicilian red grapes, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, both growing on the slops of Etna volcano. Medium bodied, soft tannins with blueberry, raspberry, cherry aromas with a high mineral notes that reflects the lava stone terroir where the grapes are planted.

What is Etna Rosso similar to?
Etna Rosso falls somewhere in between Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo wines, with a crisp acidity and red fruit aromas like cherry, blackberry and blueberry. Etna Rosso wines tend to have a distinctive earth and stony minerality, along with balsamic notes.

Is Etna wine good?
Etna wines are excellent, made exclusively with indigenous grapes Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio for reds and Carricante and Catarratto for whites. Etna, with its unique terroir, delivers some of the most exciting wines in the world, awarded for their excellent taste, quality and sustainability.

Is Etna Rosso a dry wine?
Etna Rosso DOC is a dry red wine, bold and elegant with fruity undertones and a tannic punch. These wines can vary from light to medium bodied depending on where and how they are produced.

Back to Grape Guide.