Wines of Italy: Chianti
Here’s a brief introduction to Chianti, its origin, various styles and a list of recipes that pair perfectly with its food-friendly flavor profile.
Of all the wonderful wine produced in Italy, there is probably none better known around the world than Chianti. Chianti is made from a blend of several grapes but is always at least 75% Sangiovese.
The Sangiovese Grape
Sangiovese is Italy’s most commonly grown red grape, and it thrives particularly well in the Chiati area of Tuscany.
Although there are a large number of vineyards producing Chianti, the wines all tend to share the typical characteristics of the Sangiovese grape – dry and somewhat acidic with flavors of raspberry, blackberry and a hint of spice.
Styles of Chianti
There are three defined styles of Chianti. Those simply labeled “Chianti” are generally light to medium-bodied wines, somewhat fruity and relatively low in tannin.
Those labeled “Chianti Classico” are somewhat more complex and full-bodied wines with rich, ripe berry aromas and flavors.
“Chianti Classico Riserva” is by far the most complex and full-bodied wine of the Chianti family. Carefully balanced between acidity, fruit and sugar, they must be aged for at least two years in cask and another 3 months in the bottle to earn the “Riserva” label.
Chianti pairs especially well with Italian dishes that include meat, cheeses and tomato-based sauces. Here are some suggestions: