House Wine in Italian – How to Order It in Italian Restaurants

In many restaurants in Rome and Italy in general, you will often be able to order more affordable wine than the ones listed on the menu. This is especially true in more inexpensive trattorias and local restaurants. Here, you will learn how to ask for house wine in Italian and what types of house wines you will usually find.

For many, house wine is synonymous with low quality, but in Italy, this is not quite the case. Often, in fact, the house wine that you can find in Italian restaurants is actually very good.

Find out here how to order house wine in Italy so you can decide by yourself!

Image: House wine in Italian.

House wine in Italian – What is it?

House wine in Italian is translated into “vino della casa” and this is how you pronounce it:

If you want to enjoy your meal with a glass of wine but don’t want to make your bill rise too much, most Italian restaurants will give you the option of their “vino della casa”, house wine.

But what can you expect when you order house wine in Italian restaurants?

Vino della casa in Italian is usually a bulk wine, sometimes draft, that the restaurant’s owner picks among several labels. The menu rarely gives any detail on what’s the house wine, its name, producer, grape variety, and such. Most of the times, the menu mentions barely “vino della casa rosso” (red house wine) or “vino della casa bianco” (white house wine).

Often the house wine in Italy is chosen among smaller, local producers. Sometimes, for example, if you are eating at an Agriturismo or at a farm stay, “vino della casa” can even be your host’s own production, so a very original and limited good.

Image: House wine in Italy.

This makes it a good choice because it’s always less expensive than the branded wines, it’s a good-quality local product, and hardly the restaurant’s owner will choose a nasty one. Of course, you can always try a small amount and if you don’t like it, ask the waiter to bring you something else.

House wine is always a bit uncertain so to help you decide whether you should order it or not, you can refer to the restaurant you are in. Consider the house wine as the restaurant’s best selling card, how they introduce themselves to new guests.

Unlike the expensive labels, the house wine is not served as a sealed bottle that the waiter opens at your table but directly inside a glass jar or carafe (caraffa).

Check out more Italian words for foods and drinks.

How to order house wine in Italian

When you are ordering food and drinks in Italian, you can choose between water, soft drinks, wine, and beer. In fact, one of the very first things the waiter will ask you will be:

Cosa gradite bere? (What would you like to drink?)

At this point, if you want to know which wines you can order, you can either ask for the wine list or directly which wines they have available. This is how you would go:

Possiamo avere la carta dei vini? (Can we have the wine list?)

Che vini avete? (Which wines do you have?)

Of course, if you ask the waiter or the owner, they are going to suggest the best they have, so if they recommend their house wine, it’s usually a good option.

If you are unsure, ask the waiter for a small sample to taste before ordering, good restaurants should do this for every wine so they won’t have any problem when you order the the house wine in Italian.

Image: Local wine producers in Italy.

The most common house wines in Italy

What are the names that you will find more often offered as house wine in Italian restaurants?

  • Merlot. This is a famous red wine in Italy paired with meat-based dishes and aged cheese.
  • Pinot. Another popular wine, you can find Pinot rosso (red), bianco (white), and grigio (gris).
  • Tavernello. One of the labels you will find in many cheaper trattorias or osterias is “Tavernello”, which comes in both red and white versions.

Leave a Comment