Ingredient Discovery: Chianti 101

A Noble Wine Worth Celebrating

Chianti Wine

From Florence in the north to Siena in the South, the great wine region of Chianti is the jewel in the crown of Tuscan wine and food culture. With a history that dates back to the 1700s, Chianti is a wine Tuscans celebrate throughout the summer, with festivals in the towns of Radda, in May, Lamole, in June and Greve, in September.

But why is Chianti so celebrated? Chianti wines must be made in – you guessed it – Chianti, an area in central Tuscany, from a blend of grapes from the Chianti appellation but primarily Sangiovese. Chiantis are protected by DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) certification. Chianti Classico originates in a central sub-area of Chianti – the historical epicenter of Chianti production – and only wines from this prime region crafted by members of the Chianti Classico Consortium may wear the emblem of the black rooster (gallo nero). There are also rules that guide aging – alcohol levels and amounts of grapes harvested per hectare – all in the name of guaranteeing the wine-lover the best, truest expression of Chianti’s terroir. If you see Chianti Superior DOCG, it is wine that has been crafted according to stricter production standards than Chianti DOCG, while Chianti Classico Riserva are wines aged longer than Chianti Classico – a minimum of two years in oak and three months in bottle.

And what about the Super Tuscans? Also from Tuscany, though not bearing the DOC or DOCG designation, these creative, non-traditional winemakers wanted to experiment with grape varieties not unique to Tuscany. These labels will read IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), and the wines are often bold and New World-styled.

Chianti’s are dry, fruit-forward and have a high acidity. They range in body from light to heavy and become more complex with aging. Whichever Chianti you choose, they’re very food-friendly wines and pair beautifully with so many dishes. Here are some classics: pastas with tomato sauces, lamb and beef, mushroom risotto, game, just about anything from the grill as well as hard, strong cheeses and salumi.

Buon appetito!


Chef Profile: Rob Gentile
Previous Article
How to Build a Healthy Italian Pantry
Next Article

Other Articles

Articles, recipes and tips about real Made in Italy ingredients