Centuries of history, art and culture and a landscape like no other. Ditto for its food and wine. I’d say that Tuscany is one of my favorite places on earth. It’s located in Italy’s central west and is bounded by mountains on the north and east, and by the sea to the west. Anyone else thinking “Let’s grow grapes”?
In Tuscany, you’ll find Florence, the cultural capital of Italy and neighboring historic towns like Siena and Pisa. Hilltop villages and forts are everywhere. Gastronomically, it’s famous for olive oil, wild game, ribolita soup and fine cured meats. And grapes? Sangiovese is king here and most of it goes to make Chianti, the wine blend bearing the same name as the historic place within Tuscany.
The history of the Chianti region runs like an epic movie. Both Florence and Siena wanted to own all of it—its location, the hills, its chestnut and oak forests, the climate. For decades, it was one big battlefield. When the sieges finally ended, the vineyards and olive groves were planted. By the 1600s, the making of Chianti was in full swing.
Italians knew that a wine as rich in history and character as Tuscany’s Chianti deserved protection. The government regulates the production and awarded it DOC and DOCG (links here) recognition. Thanks to this, when you pour a glass of Chianti, you’ll see why it was worth fighting over. Salute!
A perfect pairing...
Arugula Salad with thinly sliced rare beef topped with shaved pecorino cheese and fresh lemon zest.
Tuscan wines are the perfect match for just about anything that you put on the table but pair especially well with grilled or roasted marinated meat dishes. Chianti Classico Riserva and Brunello di Montalcino are often considered the perfect wines to pair with roasted meat and vegetables.
All about Chianti
There are two ways to talk about Chianti. First, there’s the small region of Chianti in the heart of Tuscany. Next, there’s the wine of the same name—one of the most food friendly wines on the planet.
Chianti wine is always a blend of Sangiovese, the king of grapes in Tuscany. Some Chianti comes from within its namesake region, others from grapes sourced throughout Tuscany. Both the grape source and how the wine is made determine its name on the label.
- The basic level simply reads Chianti. Its Sangiovese grapes can be sourced from regions throughout Tuscany. Expect cherry flavors and mouthwatering acidity. It’s a young wine ideal with pizza, a good salami sandwich or pasta with marinara.
- The Chianti Classico name is given to wines from the historic boundaries of Chianti. These are DOCG wines, aged at least one year. There’s more oomph here, so pair it with entrees like roast chicken, a good risotto, Mom’s meatloaf or bolognese anything.
- Only the best Sangiovese grapes go into Chianti Classico Riserva, the reserve level Classico aged for two years. It’s a round, spicy and elegant wine. Give this one its due and serve it with a rack of lamb roast, osso buco or a rich mushroom ravioli.