Chianti wine is one of the most celebrated types of red wine produced in Tuscany. And it easily takes its place amongst the best wines in the world. Tasting Chianti wine in Tuscany is practically a rite of passage, so we’ve put together a few crib notes to help you get to grips with what’s in your glass.
Chianti wine is best enjoyed with food. The Sangiovese grape gives the wine the potential to age well (some last up to 20 years). But as a general rule these wines are best consumed while they are still relatively young. The taste is bittersweet, tannic, with hints of cherry, violet and dried herbs.
CHIANTI CLASSICO – The Chianti wine of the Black Rooster
The Chianti Classico DOCG is one of the most prestigious wines in Tuscany, thanks mainly to the strict standards of production. It uses 80% Sangiovese grapes, the most typical of Tuscan grape varieties, and a maximum percentage of 20% of other local varieties (Canaiolo, Colorino) . You’ll also find ‘foreign’ grapes including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. MInimum alcohol percentage: 12,5%. The easiest way to tell a bottle of Chianti Classico is by the sign of the Black Rooster on the label.
Chianti Classico is aged for a minimum of 1 year, while the Riserva and the Gran Selezione need at least 2 years. These are the finest wines, more elaborate and harmonious, and the quality is reflected in the price. With age they become more intense and refined, with a fuller flavour, and they are best enjoyed with roasted meat, stew, and seasoned cheeses. These wines are better suited for ageing.
Food pairing: meat, game, soups, cheeses
The official Chianti Classico website recommends opening the Chianti Classico a few hours before, and serving it in a tulip glass to enhance its flavour.
OTHER CHIANTI WINE
There’s a lot more to Chianti wines than Chianti Classico. Chianti wine is produced in the larger area of Chianti including: Rufina, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Aretini, Montespertoli, Colli Pisani, Colli Senesi and Montalbano.
The wine produced in these areas follow certain precise rules. They contain a 70-75% minimum of Sangiovese grapes, and they allow white grapes and other red grape varieties.
The Chianti Rufina is, together with Colli Fiorentini e Senesi, considered wine of higher quality. These are full-bodied wines, good to pair with meat, stews, steak, beans, cold meat and pecorino cheese.
The other ones are lighter, more subtle, less alcoholic (10,5%-11,5%), and slightly fruity. They go well with soups, grilled meat and also fish.
The Riserva wines are aged for at least two years and are more alcoholic.