Italian Word of the Day: Vino (wine)

Like food, wine plays a very important role in Italy’s commerce and culture. Mangiare (eating) together is a fundamental part of Italian social life, and whether you’re at a restaurant or someone’s house, a bottiglia (bottle) of wine is always on the table.

The word for wine in Italian is vino (masculine, plural vini).

IPA: /ˈvino/

As you can imagine, there are lots of different types of wine. Here are some common names:

  • vino rosso = red wine
  • vino bianco = white wine
  • vino cotto = dense and sweet wine, also used for cooking
  • vino drogato / aromatizzato = seasoned wine
  • vino giovane = young wine
  • vino vecchio = old wine
  • vino passito = straw / raisin wine

Di vino cosa vogliamo ordinare? – Beh, con la carne bisogna bere il vino rosso!

Which wine do we want to order? – Well, we need to drink red wine with meat!

The term vino is also used for alcoholic drinks extracted from fermented fruit other than grapes, and also special plants:

  • vino di mele = wine of apples (cider, also sidro in Italian)
  • vino di palma = palm wine
  • vino di riso = rice wine (sake)

If you pour some water into your glass of wine to make it less strong, your friends will tease you by saying that you’ve “baptised the wine“:

Guarda Carlo, sta battezzando il vino!

Look at Carlo, he’s watering down the wine!

In certain cases, the o of vino is dropped with adjectives that begin with a consonant:

  • vin dolce = sweet wine
  • vin greco = Greek wine
  • vin santo = holy wine
  • vin brulé = hot wine (you can also say vino caldo)

Vino can become an adjective to describe the colour of red wine.

Margherita indossa un bellissimo vestito rosso vino.

Margherita is wearing a beautiful red dress.

Idioms with the word vino

There are various idioms based on the noun vino, and as you can imagine, many refer to when we drink a little bit too much of it!

Reggere il vino

  • meaning: to hold the wine
  • equivalent: to hold one’s liquor

Nella botte piccola c’è il vino buono

  • literal: in the small barrel there is good wine
  • equivalent: good things come in small packages

Buon vino fa buon sangue

  • literal: good wine makes good blood
  • equivalent: good wine makes good cheer

Avere il vino allegro

  • literal: to have the happy wine
  • meaning: to be in a euphoric state when drunk

Amico e vino vogliono essere vecchi

  • literal: friend and wine want to be old
  • meaning: friendship gets better with age, like wine

Consumare più vino che olio

  • literal: to consume more wine than oil
  • meaning: to be a drinker

Dire pane al pane e vino al vino

  • literal: to say bread to bread and wine to wine
  • meaning: to say things as they are, to be frank

Levare il vino dai fiaschi

  • literal: to remove the wine from the wine bottle
  • meaning: to clarify something