Sardinia is a magical region, lying between a crystal clear sea and wild landscapes, where each wine perfectly encapsulates the land where it is produced. With this selection we want to take you on a journey with us, to discover the best Sardinian red wines. You’ll be amazed by both the big and small wine making gems chosen by Signorvino, both for the quality of their production and for their history. Discover our online shop and buy online: a taste of Sardinia is just waiting to be served!

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The best red wines from Sardinia 

“Sardinia, with its immense and deserted spaces, with its rocky plateaus, all raised en masse over the sea, is not picturesque: it is pictorial”. The great Mario Soldati, one of the most important figures in the 20th century, said this about Sardinia in his wine guide “Vino al vino”. Who are we to argue with that? Its wine-producing territory is one of the most complex, ancient and suitable on the peninsula, with a crucible of grape varieties, both white and red, designations and different terroirs. Some of Sardinia’s most famous red wines are Cannonau, Carignano del Sulcis, and Monica. Cannonau is definitely the most famous and iconic Sardinian red wine, not only present in the region but also in Spain and France, where it is known as Garnacha and Grenache. According to the latest studies, Cannonau has existed in the region for over 3,000 years, based on findings of its seeds in terracotta urns. The main designation is the Cannonau di Sardegna DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), produced in the provinces of Cagliari, Nuoro, Oristano, and Sassari. According to the production protocol, the wine needs a minimum of two years of ageing, including at least six months in oak or chestnut barrels. There are also subzones for the production of Cannonau: Cannonau di Sardegna Capo Ferrato DOC, produced in the Cagliari province in the municipalities of Villasimius, Villaputzu, San Vito, Muravera, and Castiadas; and Cannonau di Sardegna Nepente Oliena DOC, produced in the Nuoro province, in the municipalities of Orgosolo and Oliena.

Major red wine designations in Sardinia 

The Cannonau di Sardegna Jerzu DOC is in the province of Ogliastra, in the municipalities of Jerzu, Cardedu, Tertenia, Osini, Ulassai, and Gairo. The standard version is intense ruby red with aromas of fruit and red flowers, especially plum and blueberries, with a warm palate and impressive body. Carignano is another very old grape variety, probably imported into Italy by the Phoenicians and spread to Spain, France, and some parts of Africa. According to the production protocol, Carignano del Sulcis can be produced with a minimum of 85% Carignano grapes, plus 15% other red grapes, in some specific municipalities in the Cagliari province. There are various types permitted: the standard version and the Riserva, Superiore, rosé, Novello, and Passito versions. An interesting fact about this grape variety is that it is generally bush-trained, one of the oldest methods dating back to Magna Graecia. The most traditional version of this Sardinian red is ruby red in colour with aromas of red flowers and often violet, and notes of blackberries, raspberries, Mediterranean scrub, and a nice spiciness, with impressive body and an intense palate. The Monica di Sardegna DOC is another important designation, produced in the Cagliari province from the native red grape variety Monica. The production protocol requires a minimum of 85% Monica, plus 15% other red grapes. There is also a semi-sparkling version. 

Pairings to try 

All Sardinian reds are wines that pair perfectly with semi-mature and mature cheeses, like a typical pecorino. The traditional pairing for maialino sardo (Sardinian suckling pig) is Cannonau, perhaps the Riserva version, while you could pair the standard version with less flavoursome dishes. This wine is also excellent with appetisers, risottos and fresh pasta first courses, especially typical Sardinian fresh pasta like culurgiones or malloreddus alla campidanese, with a sausage meat sauce. There are even some typical Cannonau-based recipes, like steak fillet in a Cannonau sauce, braised mutton in a Cannonau sauce, and Cannonau and pecorino risotto. The Passito versions pair perfectly with blackberry or cherry tarts, hazelnut or chocolate semifreddi (chilled desserts with ice cream), and also mature cheeses. With the liqueur versions, on the other hand, you could opt for typical traditional desserts, blackberry tarts, and dry pastries. Do not forget to try them with sebadas (typical semolina-based pastries filled with cheese), with piricchittus (Easter cookies covered with icing), or with pardulas (star-shaped tartlets filled with ricotta and saffron) – all desserts that work well with Cannonau’s tannin. 

More harmonious flavours and aromas 

Monica is a good wine for the whole meal and is suitable for a variety of pairings: from a snack of cured meats and cheeses to a roast, or a first course with a meat sauce. Try it with a fresh caciotta cheese, fiore sardo cheese, gallina al mirto (chicken steeped in myrtle), empanadas, or with Sardinian desserts. Want some more tips? Pair it with a second course based on white meat, like pork, or pasta with a sausage meat sauce. Finally, Carignano del Sulcis DOC, also known as “the pearl of Sardinia”, pairs well with first courses with meat sauces or those served with tomatoes and cheeses, or meat-based second courses, like roast lamb or agnello allo scottadito (lamb chops), roasts, and braised beef. Now we will look at other less predictable pairings, especially with fish. Here are some examples. Try it with slices of tuna marinated in a sauce of olive oil, parsley and onion, lard, white vinegar, salt and pepper, and then roasted. Alternatively, you could pair this wine with Pilau, a dish made with lobster, scampi, and prawns, cooked with fresh tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and fregola (Sardinian couscous).