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Grillo grapes

Grillo grapes, which are also known by their synonyms as Rossesebianco and Riddu are white wine grapes which are typically used in the production of white wines.

This white wine grape produces one of the grape varieties and is very well known for the role it plays in the production of Sicilia’s fortified Marsala wine.

These grapes are one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the Sicilian region of Italy despite the fall in the fashion for the Marsala wines.

With Grillo grapes mostly now being used in the production of the Italian white still wines, both blended wines as well as varietal wines.

Wine grape varieties

This grape variety which is known for its extreme resistance to high temperatures and dry climates has its origins unknown and along with Sicilia, is also found to be growing in numbers in the commune of Riomaggiore which lies in the La Spezia province of Liguria where this grape variety is known by the local name Rossesebianco.

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Wine regions for Grillo Grapes

Grillo grapes are known more for their contribution to the Marsala wines. However, in the recent years, the popularity of these grapes have made wine makers experiment with this grape and this grape is now used in DOC wines such as-

  • Delia Nivolelli (made in the province of Trapani)

  • Alcamo (made in the provinces of Palermo & Trapani)

  • Monreale (made in province of Palermo)

  • Contea di Sclafani (made in the provinces of Agrigento & Palermo)

Typically 100 % Grillo grape IGT wines are also made, though their production is limited and typically, mixing this grape wine along with other popular varieties like Chardonnay is more common.

Origins and History of Grillo grapes

Although the origin and the history of this grape are uncertain, the earliest mention of this grape came in the middle of the 19th century. There are many theories which debate about the existence and the origin of the grape.

One theory says that this grape might have been introduced to the Sicilian islands from the Apulian regions.

It was already one of the most widely planted grape varietals in the Trapani Province by 1897 and hence today it is grown throughout Sicily and also in the Islands of Aeolia.

Another theory says that this grape was a native to Sicily with it being the progeny of the Catarratto grape and the Muscat of Alexandria.

One more theory which does the round and there is as well, some small degree of evidence to this grape variety features in the Roman wine Mamertino, which was one of the favourite wines of Julius Caesar.

Characteristics of Grillo Grapes

Grillo grapes are well suited to the typical hot and dry climate of Sicilia. This grape has a high level of sugar and the ease with which it oxidizes, makes it a very good option when it comes to fortification.

Unfortunately, when it comes to yields, the other grape variety of Catarratto, again grown in the warm, dry climate of Sicilia, gives greater yields and is one of the preferred choices now-a-days in the Marsala wine which has kind of affected the plantings for the Grillo grapes and led to its decline.

Characteristics of Grillo Grape wines

Thanks to the shifting of the focus from quantity to quality in the wine making industry, Grillo grapes are revisited and redeveloped by the vine cultivators belonging to the region of Sicilia.

Thanks to the improvement in the viticultural and vinicultural techniques, winemakers are now more easily are able to control the thiols, which tend to give the Grillo wines, a more pleasant and fruit driven aromas rather than those earthy and herbal ones, which was the case previously with the wines made from this grape.

Grillo wines, when properly vinified to a very high standard, produces fresh, light, aromatic white wine with an explosion of flavours ranging from nutty, fruit-driven flavors which include lemon and apple, tw flavours of tobacco and smoke.

Grillo wines have now become a viable challenger for the quintessential Italian white wine to be had at the table with the food.

Thanks to its light, easy-drinking and good value association. This grape wine directly competes with the likes of wines like Soave, Gavi and IGT Pinot Grigio.

Food Pairings with Grillo wines

This wine goes well with the Spanish and the Italian cuisine and can be had with dishes like Macaroni with fresh lemon & cream sauce, Walnut rolled goat’s cheese with honey, etc.


Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

I have been online since it all began, with blogging and creating websites. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one of my passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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