Sardinia Wine Guide: From Cannonau to Vernaccia di Oristano

Apr 20, 2022

Guide to the Sardinia wine region and discover its wines, vineyards, cultural heritage and gastronomy.

Sardinia Guide wines

What is Sardinia best known for?

Embraced by crystal clear waters and kissed by the bright sun, Sardinia is home to crispy white and powerful red wines.


What is the geography like in Sardinia Italy?

Sardinia is the Mediterranean's second-largest island after neighboring Sicily. Sardinia has a warm Mediterranean climate, but most of this region is hilly, which means that the altitude moderates the temperatures in the vineyards.


What is the most important wine growing area in sardinia?

The wine region of Sardinia includes the vineyard area across the entire island. Grapes in Sardinia are grown pretty much everywhere across the island, but are mainly concentrated in Campidano, in the southwest of the island, between the capital Cagliari and the city of Oristano, in the north around Olbia, as well as around Sassari and Alghero.


Sardinia, the quintessential land of wine

Sardinia has a fascinating winemaking history. It has experienced a lot of intercultural influences, so by no surprise, the two main grape varieties grown here Cannonau (Garnacha) and Carignano (Carignan) are of Spanish origin.


Sardinian Wine Appellations

Winemakers in the Sardinia wine region have planted many grape varieties and created many different styles of wine over the years


Vermentino di Gallura

Vermentino di Gallura, the only DOCG of the island, is produced in the north-east corner of the island, La Gallura. The sun and constant wind characterize this area’s weather conditions. The vineyards are situated on the slopes where temperatures are moderated by altitude. All these conditions together the granit soils mixed with sand and clay, make this region particularly suitable for viticulture especially for growing Vermentino. 


This appellation wines typically have citrus and floral aromas, with some tropical stone fruit notes, and a touch of wet stones and aromatic herbs. They are light to medium body, fresh and crispy, sometimes slightly saline. Perfect with light meats, seafood, and fish. 


Carignano del Sulcis

Carignano del Sulcis is another interesting Sardinian appellation. It is located in the south of the island, where hot climate works magic with this grape, producing rich, intense, dark wines. 


Vernaccia di Oristano

And of course, if we are in Sardinia, we can’t help but mention Vernaccia di Oristano. This is a unique wine, production process of which includes aging the wine under the layer of yeasts called flor, that is formed naturally on the surface. This process reminds the production of Sherry, however, in case of Vernaccia di Oristano, the wine is not fortified. 


Sardinia DOCG wine appellation

Vermentino di Gallura.

Sardinia DOC wine appellations

Alghero, Arborea, Campidano di Terralba, Cannonau di Sardegna, Carignano del Sulcis, Girò di Cagliari, Malvasia di Bosa, Malvasia di Cagliari, Mandrolisai, Monica di Sardegna, Moscato di Sardegna, Moscato di Sorso-Sennori, Nasco di Cagliari, Nuragus di Cagliari, Sardegna Semidano, Vermentino di Sardegna, Vernaccia di Oristano.


Sardinia IGP wine appellations

Barbagia, Colli del Limbara, Isola dei Nuraghi, Marmilla, Nurra, Ogliastra, Parteolla, Planargia, Provincia di Nuoro, Romangia, Sibiola, Tharros, Trexenta, Valle del Tirso, Valli di Porto Pin


What grapes grow in Sardinia?

Sardinia has a wide range of grape varieties and, what’s more important, applies traditional methods to its winemaking, producing therefore very unique styles of wines. Sardinia has experienced a lot of interecultural influences, so by no surprise, the two main grape varieties grown here Cannonau (Garnacha) and Carignano (Carignan) are of Spanish origin. 


Is Grenache and Cannonau the same?

It is made from Cannonau grapes, the local name for the Grenache – one of Sardinia's most successful wine grapes. Cannonau produces rich and powerful red wines and can have quite high alcohol content. 



Another important red wine here is Carignano, which is quite high in tannins, color, and acidity. It has beautiful aromas of red berries, leather, spices with a bit of smokiness and sometimes a pleasant bitterness on the finish. Really unique.


How would you describe Vermentino di Gallura?

Vermentino di Gallura is the most famous Sardinian white wine. Apart from incredible fruity aromas, it also offers some mineral notes and a beautiful almondy finish. Try it with spaghetti alla bottarga (salted, cured fish roe). This pairing will take your mind to Sardinia from the very first bite!


Other grapes varieties

Other local grape varieties include: red Monica, as well as white Moscato, Nasco, and Nuragus. 



What food is famous in Sardinia?


A roasted suckling pig mounted on long skewers, and grilled over aromatic wood chips

Zuppa Gallurese

Homemade bread piled with fresh cow’s milk cheese is neatly arranged in a pan in alternating layers.


A quick guide to Sardinian wines and pairing

As always, local food and wine work magic! 

Vermentino is perfect with a special Sardinian pasta called fregola, usually prepared with seafood. However, this is not the only pairing for this fresh and fruity wine. Vermentino is perfect with fish, seafood, white meat and light vegetable dishes. 


Cannonau instead is a perfect companion to another fantastic local dish: suckling pig, but you can also try it with stews, grilled meat, pulled pork, and aged cheese, such as local pecorino. Carignano is also excellent with meat dishes, especially with lamb and roasted duck. 


And don’t forget to try a glass of dry Vernaccia di Oristano with fish soups and smoked fish, and a sweet version of this wine - with traditional local desserts, such as aranzada or papassini.


What to visit in Sardinia?


The Gallura region is one of Sardinia’s most suggestive destinations. Experience paradise as you explore the idyllic island and beaches of Maddalena, passing through the towns of Santa Teresa and Porto Cervo


Sardinia FAQs - wine

Is Cannonau wine the healthiest?

Cannonau has two to three times the amount of flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) as compared to other red wines.


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