An Introduction to Italian Wine: Chianti

Sep 12, 2023Cambridge Wines

If you're new to Italian wine and not sure where to start, look no further than Chianti. This classic Italian red wine is sure to impress, with a rich history and unique flavor profile that sets it apart from other wines.

What is Chianti?

Chianti is a red wine made from the Sangiovese grape, which is native to Italy. The wine is named after the Chianti region in Tuscany, where it has been produced for centuries. Chianti is often blended with other grapes, but the Sangiovese grape must make up at least 80% of the blend for it to be considered a Chianti.

What does Chianti taste like?

Chianti is a medium-bodied wine with a dry, slightly tart taste. It has a bright acidity and a complex flavor profile that can include notes of cherry, plum, and spice. The wine is known for its signature earthy flavor, which comes from the soil in the Chianti region.

Chianti vs. Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico is a subregion within the larger Chianti region. The wines produced in this area are considered to be the highest quality Chiantis, and are often more expensive than other Chiantis. Chianti Classico must be made with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes, and must be aged for a minimum of 12 months.

Food Pairings

Chianti pairs well with a variety of Italian dishes, including pasta, pizza, and roasted meats. It's also a great accompaniment to cheese, especially Pecorino and Parmesan. For a classic pairing, try Chianti Classico with a hearty bowl of pasta Bolognese.

How to Choose a Chianti

When choosing a Chianti, look for the following:

  • DOCG designation: This means the wine has been produced according to strict regulations in the Chianti region.
  • Vintage: Chianti can be aged for different lengths of time, ranging from a few months to several years. Generally, the longer the aging process, the better the wine.
  • Producer: Look for reputable producers who are known for making quality Chianti. Some of the most well-known Chianti producers include San Giorgio a Lapi, Castello di Bossi, and Felsina.


Chianti is a classic Italian wine that is a great introduction to Italian wine for beginners. With its unique flavor profile and food-friendly nature, it's sure to impress even the most discerning wine drinkers. Whether you opt for a Chianti or a Chianti Classico, be sure to look for the DOCG designation, pay attention to the vintage, and choose a reputable producer.

So, the next time you're looking for a new wine to try, give Chianti a chance. You won't be disappointed!

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