Drinking and Pairing Chianti with Food

Chianti is a winegrowing area located in the Tuscan hills of west-central Italy. It is based on the Sangiovese grape and is bone-dry, high in acidity, moderate in alcohol, and displays aromas and flavors of red cherries and roasted herbs. Chianti Classico, a hilly area between the cities of Florence and Siena, is the original zone. As the region's popularity grew, Chianti became a wine from a larger area surrounding the Classico zone. Within this large area are eight subzones and it is generally agreed that Classico is best with Rùfina being second best. In the 1850s, Baron Ricasoli, at his Brolio estate, decreed that blending the native Sangiovese with 30% white varieties would produce a good wine. In the name of tradition, the Italian government codified Ricasoli's formula into law in 1966. Lesser farming practices and the addition of low-quality white grapes resulted in a flood of poor-quality wine, commonly bottled in a fiasco, the squat, straw-covered bottle which epitomized the cheap perception of Italian wine in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, new wealth invested in Chianti. These new owners focused on quality rather than quantity, and broke the rules hampering the area's reputation. They included Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in their wines, and excluded poor-quality white grapes from their blends. Others felt that by blending these "international" grapes with Sangiovese, the "soul" of Chianti was being lost and instead choose to bottle 100% Sangiovese wines (also not permitted under Chianti regulations). Losing their right to be called Chianti, many of these wines chose instead to market their wines as "Super Tuscans." Today, Chianti enjoys a good reputation and can be made with up to 100% Sangiovese. Some producers now produce a "Super Tuscan" wine in addition to their normale Chianti bottling, and a riserva wine (released later, with more oak, and at a higher price).

Tuscan cooking is the simplest in all of Italy. Chianti is served with various salumi and preserved meats, stewed white beans, mushrooms, and big hunks of blood-rare Chianina, Italy's most-prized beef. Lighter styles of Chianti can be useful to pair with fish, especially grilled or roasted.

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Chianti pairs well with:

Beef

Olives

Caribbean cuisine

Foods cooked via Braise/Soup/Stew

Fatty dishes