Drinking and Pairing Sangiovese with Food

Sangiovese is the most-planted red grape in Italy and is the most important grape variety used in the production of Tuscany's greatest red wines. It is believed that Sangiovese's name is derived from "sanguis Jovis" meaning blood of Jove (Jupiter). There once existed two distinct clonal families of Sangiovese: Sangiovese Grosso and Sangiovese Piccolo. Now, almost all quality wines are variations of the superior Sangiovese Grosso. Sangiovese Grosso goes by many names in Tuscany. In Chianti (traditionally a blend but now may be 100% Sangiovese) it is simply Sangiovese, while in Brunello di Montalcino (always 100% Sangiovese) it is known simply as "Brunello" (little dark one) due to the darker skin of the particularly powerful clone of Sangiovese Grosso found there. Prugnolo is the local name for the Sangiovese grown in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and in Maremma on the Tuscan coast, Sangiovese goes by the name "Morellino." Wherever it is grown, wines produced from the Sangiovese grape should be bone-dry, herby, and should taste of tart cherry or even cherry pit. Brunello di Montalcino is a particularly powerful style of Sangiovese and the wines can be very long-lived. Sangiovese is also a component in many of Tuscany's "Super Tuscans," where it is married with various proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah. It has also had some success as a varietal wine in California.

With its dryness and high acidity, Sangiovese is extremely food-friendly and works in situations that can otherwise be difficult, like with dishes containing tomatoes or acidic tomato sauces. White beans, mushrooms, and grilled red meat are also excellent partners with Sangiovese, and lighter styles of Sangiovese have proven to be useful red wines to pair with fish, especially grilled or roasted.

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