The mofo guide to | Chianti
We heard of someone once pairing Chianti with liver and fava beans, and we’re not sure it was the best advice. Here’s our less horrific, more terrific, starter guide for anyone wanting to get to know this Tuscan superstar.
What's great about Chianti?
The Chianti region is at the top end of Tuscany, between Florence and Pisa. It’s a protected designation of origin, so wines labeled as Chianti need to be made from fruit grown from the region and predominantly from sangiovese grapes, bringing high acidity and earthy flavours to the drop.
It’s a great pairing wine for summer, and brings that Italian-piazza warmth to any occasion. Dry, medium-to-full bodied, with similar levels of acidity and high tannins, Chianti is best mates with food – and loves to be paired up with… well, we’ll get to that shortly.
Chianti’s not just a single style, and there’s a range to get to know and love. Ready to dive in?
What to expect with a Chianti
Chianti’s classic profile has rich dark cherry, plum and dried oregano, with more developed examples with a bit of age giving you some rich leather, tobacco and earth.
Predominantly (and majority) sangiovese, they’re often blended with a smidge of other Italian or French fruit thrown in depending on what the winemaker is aiming for. Put your feet up and you can imagine yourself at a rustic osteria with every sip.
There’s three broad tiers to the wines from Chianti that’ll generally give you a steer when it comes to the flavour profile and development, and you’ll see these signposted on the bottle.
“Chianti DOCG” means that the wine has been made from fruit grown in the region, with wines labeled “Chianti Classico DOCG” being made from fruit grown in the original classified (“classic”) borders of the region. “Classico” wines also need to be aged for 12 months before release, given they retain a touch more acidity than your typical Chianti DOCG.
“Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG” wines have been aged for at least 24 months, with at least 3 months of that spent relaxing in bottle. Expect to see a few more developed flavours and aromas of leather, and a slightly more premium price point. There’s also a “Superiore” tier that denotes the best of the best when it comes to Classico.
What temperature should I serve Chianti at?
The classic “room temperature”, or a cool shady deck to beat the heat - around 15-19°C is your sweet spot for Chianti.
What foods pair with Chianti?
True to its Tuscan heritage, with Chianti a safe bet is to always trust the old adage “if it grows together, it goes together”. With more youthful Chianti we’re talking about those great, hearty tomato-based dishes - beef ragu, spaghetti with meatballs, bolognese, lasagne, margherita pizza, bruschetta and even the good ol’ Italian-originated, Aussie-perfected chicken parmigiana.
It’s also great for when you’re picking away at an antipasti board too, and matches superbly with prosciutto, salumi, olives and sundried tomatoes.
More aged “riserva” examples go great with Tuscan sausage, lamb with rosemary and anchovy, the classic Bistecca alla Fiorentina and ribeye-steak dribbled with salsa verde or chimichurri. We’ll stop there, we’re already salivating at the thought of it all.
When should I be drinking Chianti?
Chianti’s that great afternoon summer feasting wine, the kind of drop for when you’re going to need a looser pair of pants by the end of the session. That said, it’ll also go great with a Friday or Saturday night in front of the latest Binge release with a few slices of margherita pizza, or whatever you feel like doing with great company. Cheers to that.
Ready to delve into the world of Chianti and more? Shop the sangiovese range here.