Italians have to very essential things in their cooking and diet: extra virgin olive oil and Chianti wine.
If you drink wine at all, you may have heard of the delicious red wine called Chianti. This Italian red wine is pronounced key-on-tee, which so many non-Italian speaking wine lovers mispronounce. In most cases, you will recognize this wine.
by the oddly shaped bottle that is certain to catch your eye at the wine tasting.
Chianti wine is a bitter, sometimes smoky, red wine that pairs perfectly with a variety of food choices! It hails from Tuscany, Italy and is made from Sangiovese grapes. In previous years, Chianti Classico was a version of this red wine that allowed for white wine grape to be used in the making of the wine. This is not the case anymore. In fact, the only other grapes you may find in your Chianti are Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
First Time Tasting
If you have never experienced a red Chianti wine before, you may be in for a surprise (but a great one).
This wine is a medium to full-bodied wine that is also very dry. While it can bring some fruity flavors to your taste buds, it is more likely to bring out the savory and smokey flavor you might expect from a dry red wine. The smokiness flavors pair extremely well with grilled meats and hard cheeses.
A Breakdown of the General Aging of Chianti
Searching for the perfectly aged Chianti for your next dinner or special occasion? Let’s break down the general aging periods of Chianti wine. Choosing the right age of your Chianti can help make your dining experience even grander.
Chianti: This wine is aged for 6 months and has a simple tart flavor.
Superiore: This wine has been aged for a year. It has a bolder taste with a smoother acidity to it than some other red wines.
Riserva: This wine has been aged for 2 years and is one of the top sellers.
Gran Selezione: This wine has been aged for at least 2.5 years and is only used in Chianti Classico.
Food Pairings for Chianti Red Wine
Now that you know some of the different aging categories your Chianti may reside in, you need to know what foods pair best with a full glass of this delicious red wine.
Because Chianti has a savory, smokey, and bold flavor, pairing it with foods is very easy. Chianti also has high acidity, which allows it to easily cut through richer dishes with higher fat content. It is even a great wine choice for dishes with tomato sauce like spaghetti or pizza!
Chianti is also great for meat dishes like steaks. This savoriness of the meat paired with the smokey and high acidity of Chianti make these two an outstanding pair.
It is not a wine that many would enjoy with sweet dishes like dessert or after-dinner meals.
Where is Chianti wine made?
Many Italian counties are particular about their pride and joy wines receiving the name of their region without actually being made in that particular region. Chianti is no exception to this rules.
Much like champagne, for someone to name a red wine Chianti, it must actually come from the region of Chianti in Italy. Another requirement: it must be made with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. If these requirements are not met, the wine cannot be named Chianti with full authenticity.
Serve a Glass of Chilled Chianti
A lighter-bodied red wine such as Chianti should be served on the chilled side for optimal taste. This temperature helps keep the acidity down and create a smoother finish to the aftertaste effect.
For the best taste, keep your Chianti at 55°F – 60°F. If you have must have your Chianti at a slightly cooler or warmer temperature, don’t worry. It will still be just as delicious as the “perfectly” chilled recommendation.
To make our Chianti taste even more refreshing, chill your wine glass in the freezer for a few minutes before serving yourself a glass. This will keep the wine chilled longer and provide you with a tasting experience like never before.
Top Chianti Choices Under $20
Buying incredibly tasty red wine doesn’t have to be expensive. There are actually many brands and varieties of Chianti on the market under $20. Let’s take a look at some of the best Chiantis that won’t cost you a fortune.
- Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2009
Looking for a slightly light bodied Chianti? The Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva brings a cherry flavor to the forefront upon initial tasting. Upon further sipping, you will notice a savory taste that allows you to pair this wine with pasta and mushrooms beautifully. This truly is a great mix of both sweet and savory.
- Villa Nozzole Chianti Classico DOCG 2009
Looking for a Chianti that is full of flavor? The Villa Nozzole Chianti Classico is a fuller bodied wine has a sweeter flavor (some say it resembles prunes with a mixture of cherries). Because of the sweetness, it is the perfect wine for salty foods like Parmesan cheese or a rich stew on a cold winter’s day.
- Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico DOCG 2010
If you are looking for a dry Chianti, the Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico is a great choice. This wine has a savory flavor that also brings forth a hint of a light fruity aroma. The tart acidity is also something that many wine lovers enjoy, especially with pork or chicken dishes. If you are looking for a Chianti that will work beautifully with your holiday meal, this is the Chianti for you.
Chianti may be a new type of wine experience for you, or you may be a tried and true Chianti lover. Whichever the case may be, giving Chianti a spot in your wine line up is completely worth it! As one of the most well-known red wines from Italy, Chianti has made a name for itself on the wine scene for hundreds of years. Through careful craftsmanship and perfectly blended aromas, your next class of wine filled with a Chianti wine will be delightful.