ChiantiItaly prides itself on its history, its culture of art and fashion, its mouthwatering cuisine… and its Chianti. This iconic red comes straight from the Italian region of Tuscany and is the country’s most popular wine. So what makes this dry food-friendly red the most recognized wine outside of its homeland, Italy?

 

What is Chianti?

Like Soave and most Old World wines, Chianti derives its name from the region where it is produced; in this case, the heart of Tuscany. Sangiovese is the main grape used to make Chianti – the DOC laws stipulate that the wine must be made of a minimum of 70% of Sangiovese for a Chianti and 80% for the more prestigious Chianti Classico DOCG. The Sangiovese grape is sometimes also blended with the native varietals Canaiolo and Colorino, or the world-renowned Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for a wine with a smoother finish.

How to pick your Chianti?

The Chianti region is divided into seven sub-zones (Chianti Rufina, Chianti Colli Aretini, Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Colline Pisane, Chianti Montalbano and Chianti Montespertoli), which all come under the Chianti DOCG. But the area’s best wines come from a different zone, Chianti Classico, that has a separate DOCG status. Chianti Classico wines are generally of higher quality, since they are produced in smaller quantities, in historical areas with clay-based soils and a warm climate. To enjoy the classic and bold taste of a great Chianti, look for the Classico appellation. Wines from the Chianti Rufina zone are highly regarded as well, and are the promise of a gorgeous red.

How to pair your Chianti?

Chianti’s high acidity makes it a perfect wine for food, especially with tomato-based sauces and dishes: pair your Chianti with a pizza or pasta with marinara. Rich pieces of meat + Chianti are a great match as well! For an ultimate tasting experience, go for a Chianti Classico or Chianti Classico Riserva, that will go well with some lamb or aged cheese.

Our suggestions

To discover or re-discover Chianti wine, try one of our favorite options:

2011 Chianti Riserva Melini

2009 Villa Nozzole Chianti Classico

2006 Ruffino Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva

1999 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio

 

Sources:

Wine Folly  

Wine Searcher 

Wine Weekly

VinePair