Parents & Origin: Mainly Sangiovese grape, Central Tuscany
Grape: Small, spherical, dark purple skin
Flavors: Cherry, strawberry, dried herbs, balsamic vinegar, smoke
Notable Regions: Chianti wine region (Tuscany, Italy) Sweetness: Dry
Body: Medium
Tannins: High
Acidity: Medium-High
ABV: 11.5-13%

The History of Chianti

Chianti dates back to the 13th century, where winemakers were documented growing excellent grapes in the “Chianti Mountains” near Florence, Italy. Chianti has always been defined by the presence of Sangiovese grapes, but interestingly, the wine originated as a white wine with higher proportions of white grapes. Over time, higher quantities of Sangiovese became preferred, leading Chianti to become the flavorful red wine it is known as today.

The Chianti winemaking region began to be regulated in the 18th century, after an edict by Cosimo III de Medici, the Duke of Tuscany. The boundaries dictated by Cosimo are today known as the “Chianti Classico” subregion, although Chianti wines are still produced in the Greater Chianti region that surrounds its original heartland.

In the 20th century, international demand for Chianti grew due to its reputation as an affordable, easy-to-drink wine. It became especially popular in the late 20th century due to its availability in Italian-American restaurants, and Chianti at this time was often sold in a squat bottle encased in a straw basket known as a fiasco. However, Chianti has most recently regained some appreciation for its quality, and it can be essential in a wine enthusiast’s collection.

Interesting Fact: In the United States, Chianti is frequently associated with the 1991 film “Silence of the Lambs,” in which it is referenced in a quotable line from Hannibal Lecter. This line solidified Chianti in popular culture, and also reflected the significant popularity of Chianti at the time in the late 20th century.

Chianti Food Pairings

Due to its balance of earthy flavors, high tannins, and high acidity, Chianti pairs well with many foods, particularly those of Italian origin.

The Best Chianti Food Pairings

Naturally, Chianti is most often paired with hearty Italian food of all types, especially those with red sauce. Chianti is also good with strong-tasting lamb or poultry, and it is also often known as an ideal wine to pair with pizza.

Food Pairings to Avoid with Chianti

Like most red wines, Chianti is not ideal for lighter dishes, particularly those involving seafood. For the most part, however, Chianti is considered a versatile wine that pairs with most foods.

Chianti Tasting Notes

Chianti is prepared from 75-100% Sangiovese grapes, with any additional grapes being Canaiolo or other approved red grape varieties. Chianti is high in tannins and is usually oaked for a number of months, 7-24 months in the case of Chianti Classico. This results in a medium-bodied wine with notable earthy and rustic aromas. Common flavor notes include cherry, strawberry, dried herbs, balsamic vinegar, and smoke.

Chianti's Delicate Flavors

Sangiovese grapes are known for their tough skin and bold flavors, leading to the boldness of the aromas imparted in Chianti wine. This may even result in some coarseness and tartness on the palate, but these are just features of Sangiovese that all add to the savory, multi-faceted, taste of Chianti, something that can be no better described than the pure taste of Italy.

Chianti Classico vs. Greater Chianti

Wines from the Chianti region dictated by Cosimo III de Medici are today known as “Chianti Classico.” This region produces the most prestigious wines with medium body and firm tannins, as well as the more complex flavors that may be lost in other wines. The finest Chianti Classico wines, particularly those labeled reserva or gran selezione, are aged for more than 2 years and come at a steep price. However, excellent wines can also be made in the “Greater Chianti” area that surrounds the Classico region. Some Greater Chianti regions, such as Rufina, are known in their own right for their premium vineyards.

Our Selection of Chianti

  • Italy: 2016 Cantus Chianti D.O.C.G. - Pour a glass of 2016 Cantus Chianti and enjoy a refined wine with a plush feel, and a harmony of big red berries and smoky hints. Pair this wine with a hearty pizza or pasta meal, candlelight optional.
  • Italy: 2015 Arbos Chianti D.O.C.G. - Piergiorgio Castellani’s home sits in the middle of his family’s historic Tuscan vineyards, and his wines artfully meld his family’s celebrated winemaking heritage with his surf-loving, environmentally conscious lifestyle. Made from organic Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, and Canaiolo grapes, this robust red bursts with wild berry flavors that are balanced by a slight smokiness that makes it wonderful with a hearty meal.
  • Italy: 2017 Montostoli 1926 Chianti D.O.C.G. - Located in the heart of Tuscany’s exclusive Chianti Classico region, Montostoli farm is run by the Coli family and has produced well-loved, award-winning wines since 1926. This wine is lively on the palate, works perfectly with unexpected pairings like chili or grilled sausages, and is sure to make mouths water when poured with Italian classics like pepperoni pizza or lasagna.
  • Italy: 2018 La Scelta Personale Chianti D.O.C.G. - Uncork La Scelta Personale Chianti and enjoy a tart, flavorful red wine that makes a strong statement. Bright ruby in the glass, this wine rewards with red berries, sour cherries, and spice on the nose and palate, followed by a finish of pure velvet. Buono!
  • Italy: 2016 Due Mari Chianti D.O.C.G. - Chianti is the food-friendly Italian red wine beloved for its big notes of red berries. Marinara is the tangy and rich tomato sauce used on hearty Italian meals ranging from pizza to pasta to stuffed peppers. When the two come together, the results are exciting and highly satisfying. Make your next Italian meal a special one with a bottle of 2016 Due Mari Chianti.

Chianti in a Nutshell

Since its origins in Tuscany in the 13th century, Chianti has risen to become one of the most widespread and recognizable Italian wines. Often overlooked due to its commonality and affordability in the 20th century, modern-day Chianti has all but lost the fiasco and is now one of Europe’s most complex and flavorful wines. Prized for its food-friendliness, Chianti is an excellent addition to almost any Italian meal, from poultry to pizza. So if Italian is on the menu, then Chianti is definitely a must-have for any wine connoisseur.