Nero d'Avola Grape Variety Characteristics & Wine Styles

Last Updated on March 18, 2024.

Nero d’ Avola is best known for its production in Southeastern Sicily but it can be found in many other areas in Sicily as well. There is more recently some Nero being grown in Mendocino County in California and you can find some in Southern Australia. Its styles can vary depending on elevation, vintage, and aging.


What Does Nero d’Avola Taste Like?

Nero d’Avola is a thick-skinned red grape, thriving in hotter and drier climates. For this reason, Sicily is the perfect place for this grape to grow. It’s known for its full body, jammy fruit, and sweet tannins. It is a dry wine with lower acidity.

Oftentimes, it is compared to Shiraz because of its fruity style. The name Nero d’ Avola comes from the town where it was first cultivated, Avola. It translates to “the black grape of Avola” and is Sicily’s most important red grape.

Classic fruit notes include dark, dusky flavors like plum, black cherry, and cassis. Secondary notes typically are tobacco, leather, slate, black pepper, red pepper, and licorice.

Nero d’Avola Food Pairings

Because of its heft, Nero d’Avola works well with darker meats, like lamb, duck, and beef. It’s a wonderful partner for roasted or grilled meat dishes. It can stand up to Greek cuisine, like gyros or moussaka, and naturally works well with spicier Italian sausages or sauces like puttanesca. For cheese pairings, think bold: it can work with sharper aged cheeses and will overwhelm mild cheeses.

Climate and Terroir for Nero d’Avola

Nero d’Avola is considered the signature grape of Sicily, where it thrives in the hot, dry, rugged terrain. Outside of Sicily and Italy, it has also thrived in dry areas of California and Australia where several producers have cultivated it with success.

How is Nero d’Avola Aged?

Nero d’Avola is often vinified in two different ways: the big, bright, jammy style meant to be drunk young, and the more elegant, mellow version that can age. If oak is used for aging, it’s usually a neutral oak that does not impart notes that overlap or conflict with the natural brightness of the fruit. While Nero d’Avola can age for a while, it’s usually meant to be enjoyed soon after release.

Try these Nero d’Avola wine recommendations from around the world:

Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties

Written By Jamie Metzgar

Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.

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Nero d'Avola Structural Characteristics

Body Medium

Sugar Dry

Acid Medium - Minus

Alcohol Medium - High

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