Chianti wine is one of the most popular Italian wines, especially in the US. You may have heard about it, or even tasted it. Maybe, you bought a fancy fiasco bottle of Chianti in a store once, to make a good impression with friends or relatives. Or maybe, you don’t know anything about this wine at all.
Whether you are a wine lover or a wine probie, one thing is for sure, a Chianti wine tasting in a real Chianti cellar is an experience worth doing at least once in a lifetime. It actually connects you to the roots of one of the most interesting Italian products. As a matter of fact, a Chianti wine tasting is not just about wine and its best pairings – it is also about the ancient tradition of winemaking, the unique landscape, and the profound bond with the territory where its vineyards grow.
But before you start on planning your trip to Italy and your Chianti wine tasting, hold your horses. You might be asking yourself some questions about Chianti wine, especially if you are not a wine expert. Check out our tips, discover more about this tasty wine, and then enjoy your Chianti tasting experience.
Where should I go for a good Chianti wine tasting, exactly?
Chianti wine owes its name to the sub-region where it is historically produced, which is called Chianti. It is a wide area covered in sweeping hills, situated in the heart of Tuscany, one of Italy’s 20 main Regions. This is where the best Chianti Classico vineyards and cellars hide! The most famous Chianti area is the one that spreads through the countryside between Florence and Siena. If you have, apart from wine, also a passion for nature and stunning views, you won’t be disappointed. In the Chianti region you will find yourself surrounded by a sunny and rolling landscape, scattered with vineyards and ancient little villages.
To have a wine tasting in the Chianti region is definitely one of the top wine experience you can have in Tuscany – we will be more specific about that onwards. However, Chianti region is not the only place where you can have a Chianti wine tasting. Chianti wine is produced in eight sub-regions in all, all located in Tuscany. Indeed, you can have a great Chianti tasting also in the cellars among the hills surrounding Pisa, Arezzo, and Pistoia, along with the immediate outskirts of Siena and Florence.
What color is Chianti wine?
If you are not a wine expert, you may wonder what color is Chianti, white or red. It is actually one of the major Italian red wines. There are no white types of Chianti – they just do not exist. Different versions of Chianti might have slightly different blends, and consequently slightly different shades of red, but they will always be red.
This is because it is produced mainly from Sangiovese grapes, which are red. Depending on the different sub-regions where Chianti is produced, the high percentage of Sangiovese can be blended with other types of grapes, such as Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet. The history says that the original recipe also included a 15% of white Malvasia… by all accounts, a percentage too low to ever have a white Chianti!
Is Chianti wine sweet or dry?
If you never took a sip of Chianti wine in your life, before having a Chianti wine tasting you may wonder what does Chianti wine taste like, just to know if it suits your taste. Chianti is a very dry wine. This is because it has a quite high amount of tannins. In its taste and smell, there is also some reminiscence of cherry flavour, earth and herbs. All things considered, thanks to its dryness and acidity, it pairs very well with the typical Tuscan delicacies, such as meat dishes, cheese, and cold cuts.
What is the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico?
Do you remember when we told you that having a wine tasting in the Chianti region would be a top wine experience? Well, here is the reason. The sub-region named Chianti is where the wine variety called Chianti Classico is cultivated and made. You may have seen the two types – Chianti and Chianti Classico – in some restaurants or stores, and the two different names mark a difference, indeed.
Chianti Classico is more refined than Chianti. First, the area where it is produced significantly overlaps the historical region of Chianti winemaking, officially delimited by the Medicis in the 18th century. This area, along with its surroundings covered with more recent Chianti Classico vineyards, is claimed to have the best grapes in Tuscany. Secondly, the variety called Chianti Classico requires a longer ageing process. While the average Chianti requires up to 8 months, a Chianti Classico needs 12 months to be ready to be tasted.