(Chianti pronunciation: KYAHN-tee or Kee-Ahn-tee)
Chianti red wine is Italy in a bottle. Like other old world wines, Chianti wine is named after the region in which it is produced rather than grape variety it is made out of. The Chianti region located in Tuscany is rather small, yet attracts a heavy tourist flow due to it being the home of Chianti wine, olive oil and Michelangelo’s famous David painting.
Old Chianti wines used to come in a straw wrap called a fiasco, and were commonly known as being sub-par, but have since become notably higher in quality. Now, Chianti Italian wine comes in several forms, all made of 70% or more Sangiovese grapes. The classifications of the wine are standard Chianti, Chianti Classico, and Chianti Riserva.
A standard Chianti is made out of at least 70% Sangiovese grapes and is aged for a minimum of 3 months. The other 30% of the wine can come from a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, or Syrah, which is often used to soften the finish. At one time, white grape varieties, such as Trebbiano, were used in the blend to make a lighter bodied wine, but that practice has since been banned.
Chianti Classico is produced in small quantities and is only harvested from the finest grapes on the most historical estate between Florence and Siena. This classification of the wine must be aged at least 10 months, and the bottle must feature a famous black rooster seal.
Finally, Chianti Riserva is similar to standard Chianti, but must be aged far beyond a standard version with a minimum duration of 38 months. This aging reveals much softer tannins and will be labeled as Riserva.
All Chianti classifications are earthy, rustic, tannic, acidic, dry, medium-bodied red wines. Chianti tastes of red fruits and dried herbs, more specifically cherries and oregano, as well as balsamic, smoke, tobacco, and game. The Chianti color is often ruby red, sometimes with flashes of vibrant burnt orange, which commonly occurs in aged wines.
A Chianti pairs well with food in general, but is commonly enjoyed with Italian food. The high acidity in the wine helps it cut through rich, high-fat dishes, and match up to tomato sauce in dishes like pasta pomodoro and pizza. Rich meats the wine pairs with are wild boar, porterhouse steak, salami, and prosciutto. When enjoying the wine you can’t go wrong with a dish featuring the other Chianti, Italy delicacy, olive oil.
We've been fortunate enough to feature some of the best Chianti wines we've come across in our Wine of the Month Clubs! Not only in our International Wine Club where we directly imported the wines from Italy, but also our highest-end Diamond Wine Club and our Gold Wine Club featuring strictly California wines. We're sure to feature more great bottles in the future!
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