Nero d’Avola Wine Guide

Pronunciation: NEH-roh DAH-voh-lah

Nero d’Avola is a red wine grape native to Sicily, Italy. It’s prominently featured in both blends and single varietal wines, offering a robust, full-bodied red with notes of dark cherry, black plum, subtle spices, and a touch of floral undertones.

What Kind of Wine is Nero d’Avola?


Nero d’Avola is a full-bodied red wine with medium acidity, medium tannins, and a higher alcohol content. Its style often falls between the richness of Merlot and the boldness of Cabernet Sauvignon. It showcases sweet cherries and plum.

What Grape is Used in Nero d’Avola?

Nero d’Avola is a single varietal wine, meaning it is made exclusively from Nero d’Avola grapes. The red grape’s thick skins contribute to its deep color and provide the wine with its characteristic tannic structure.

Where Does Nero d’Avola Wine Come From?

Originating from southern Sicily, Nero d’Avola is deeply rooted in the island’s winemaking traditions. In various regions of Sicily, this grape either complements other varieties in blends or takes center stage as the primary component.

Nero d’Avola in Sicily

Sicily’s diverse terroir, coupled with a warm climate, provides an ideal setting for Nero d’Avola cultivation. The grape thrives here, expressing its unique characteristics and contributing to the production of rich and flavorful red wines.

Sicily is a wine-making powerhouse. Go check out more wines from Sicily here.

Nero d’Avola Wine in Other Regions

While Sicily remains the heartland of Nero d’Avola, the grape has gained recognition beyond Italy. A few wine producers grow and craft Nero d’Avola wines in California and Australia.

What Does Nero d’Avola Wine Smell Like?

Nero d’Avola is known for its intense aroma, smelling like dark cherry and black plum notes. Subtle hints of spices, such as black pepper clove, and even chile, may also be present. The wine’s bouquet is a harmonious blend of fruit and spice, creating an enticing olfactory experience.

Here’s a description of a quality Nero d’Avola wine: Aromas of plum, orange peel and a hint of nori. Full-bodied with fine, slightly tight tannins. Black-fruited with some well-balanced, woody spice.

Nero d’Avola does well with oak, so your wine may have oak expressions like sweet baking space, chocolate, and mocha.

Helpful Tip: Here’s what oak aging adds to wine.

What Does Nero d’Avola Taste Like?

Nero d’Avola delights the palate with flavors of ripe dark cherries, black plums, and a touch of spiciness. The wine’s full body is complemented by a lively acidity, providing a well-balanced and satisfying taste.

Is Nero d’Avola a Full-Bodied Wine?

Yes, Nero d’Avola is considered a full-bodied wine, offering a rich and robust drinking experience. Its full-bodied nature makes it a great choice for those who enjoy wines with depth and intensity.

Fun Wine Fact: Alcohol is one of the key factors in wine body. Higher alcohol wines will feel fuller-bodied than lower alcohol wines. If you want a leaner style of Nero d’Avola, find a bottle with lower alcohol. If you want a full-bodied Nero d’Avola, look for a wine with 14%+ ABV.

Is Nero d’Avola a Heavy Wine?

Nero d’Avola, while full-bodied, can vary in weight. Most Nero d’Avola wines fall into the category of medium to full-bodied, offering a substantial yet approachable drinking experience. Wines with higher alcohol content may lean towards the heavier side.

Nero d’Avola vs Other Grapes

Nero d’Avola vs Other Red Wines

Nero d’Avola vs Other Red Wines

Categories Nero d’Avola Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Pinot Noir
Hue and Color Deep red to purple Ruby red Deep red to purple Light red to garnet
Sweetness Dry Dry to off-dry Dry Dry
Acid Moderate Moderate High High
Tannin Moderate to high Low to moderate High Low to moderate
Alcohol Moderate to high Moderate High Low to moderate
Body Medium to full Medium Full Light to medium
Intensity Medium to high Medium High Medium
Aromas Black cherry, plum, herbs Red and black fruits, chocolate Blackcurrant, green bell pepper Red berries, floral notes
Classic Regions Sicily, Italy Bordeaux, France Napa Valley, California Burgundy, France
Average Price $$ $$ $$$ $$$

Is Nero d’Avola Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon

Nero d’Avola is similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines share a full body and bold structure. However, Nero d’Avola tends to offer a more pronounced fruitiness, with dark cherry and plum notes taking center stage.

Is Nero d’Avola Similar to Pinot Noir?

Nero d’Avola isn’t similar to Pinot Noir. The dark fruit flavors and fuller body set Nero d’Avola apart from the lighter, nuanced nature of Pinot Noir.

Is Nero d’Avola a Merlot?

While Nero d’Avola and Merlot both fall into the category of fuller-bodied red wines, Nero d’Avola distinguishes itself with its darker fruit profile and more pronounced tannins. Merlot, on the other hand, tends to be softer and fruit-forward with red plum notes.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that you’re drinking Nero d’Avola when you’re drinking Nero d’Avola!

How to Serve Nero d’Avola Wine

how-to-serve-nero-davola-wine-infographic - nero d'avola wine guide


Serve Nero d’Avola at a temperature just below room temperature, ideally around 60-68°F (15-20°C). This range allows the wine to express its full range of aromas while maintaining a refreshing coolness.


Choose a standard red wine glass with a large bowl that’s slightly curved rim. This design will help you with swirling to open the wine up, and aeration, directing the wine’s aromas towards your nose, enhancing the overall tasting experience.


Lighter Nero d’Avola styles may require minimal decanting, while fuller-bodied wines benefit from 20-30 minutes of decanting to fully develop their flavors.

Helpful Tip: If you find your Nero d’Avola closed, let it sit for 10 minutes and revisit.

Nero d’Avola Aging Potential

Nero d’Avola, particularly fuller-bodied and tannic varieties, can age gracefully for 5-10 years or even longer. This aging process enhances the wine’s savory and complex characteristics.

How Much Should You Spend on Nero d’Avola Wine?

Plan on spending between $15-$20 USD on Nero d’Avola if you want an interesting wine. You can find Nero d’Avola wines under $10 USD – which is totally worth and always try a bottle if you come across it. These inexpensive Nero d’Avola wines are typically at discount shops.

Nero d’Avola Synonyms

Nero d’Avola can go by Calabrese, suggesting a connection between Calabria in the southern part of mainland Italy.

Nero d’Avola Food Pairing Suggestions


Nero d’Avola’s versatility makes it a wonderful companion for a variety of dishes. Pair it with hearty meats, pasta dishes, and flavorful cheeses to complement its bold flavors and tannic structure.

Helpful Tip: If you’d pair a dish you love with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Merlot, it’ll almost always work with Nero d’Avola.

Quick Tips: Nero d’Avola Food Pairing

  • Grilled lamb chops or beef steak
  • Spaghetti Bolognese or a rich pasta with tomato-based sauce
  • Aged Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Psst: Here’s a quick guide to get you started with food and wine pairing if you need it.

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Notable Nero d’Avola Producers and Bottles to Try

When exploring Nero d’Avola, seek out wineries dedicated to showcasing the grape’s unique qualities. Notable producers include:

These wineries craft Nero d’Avola wines that capture the essence of this Sicilian grape in different and compelling ways.

Fun Wine Fact: Nero d’Avola’s bold character also makes it a popular choice for crafting intense, sweet passito wines, which are made by allowing the grapes to raisinate before fermentation, concentrating acid, sugar, and flavor. These are rare bottles, so if you’re ever in Sicily, be sure to enjoy one for me!

Final Thoughts – Nero d’Avola as a Must-Try Red Wine Varietal

With its bold fruit profile, substantial structure, and aging potential, Nero d’Avola is a red wine that demands attention. Here are three key takeaways:

  • Distinctive Flavor Profile: Nero d’Avola offers a palate of dark cherries, black plums, and subtle spiciness. Its pronounced tannins provide a velvety texture.
  • Versatile Pairing: Nero d’Avola complements a wide range of dishes, from rich meats to pasta, making it a versatile choice for diverse culinary experiences.
  • Regional Heritage: Nero d’Avola’s roots in Sicily contribute to its unique regional character, offering wine enthusiasts a taste of the island’s winemaking tradition.

Thirsty for More?

Love strong red wines? Check out this list of big red wines worthy of your cellar.
Planning a red wine tasting? Check out these red wine cheese pairings to get you started.

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