What is Chianti wine?

What is Chianti? Is Chianti wine sweet? What is the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico? What is Ruffino Chianti? These are just some of the many questions that we receive when students come to learn about Tuscany’s wines. While most people have heard of Chianti red wine, unless you have spent time studying the Chianti wine region or Chianti red wine, chances are you may not know much about it. Where does it come from? Which kind of grapes are used to make it? What are some of its characteristics? What are some of its variations?

Chianti wine characteristics 

Well, Chianti is a dry, red wine that comes from a specific region in Tuscany – the Chianti region. Chianti grapes do not exist, rather, the Chianti red wine is made from Sangiovese grapes grown in the Chianti region. Chianti Classico comes from an even smaller region within the Chianti region.

One well-known brand of Chianti is Ruffino Chianti, a DOCG dating all the way back to 1877, when it was first produced. Ruffino Chianti is extremely well known in the United States because prior to World War I it was the only Chianti exported from Italy to the United States. It was a sort of Italian wine ambassador all around the world. Ruffino Chianti is made with a minimum of 70% Sangiovese grapes plus other red varietals such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chianti wine price

As far as Chianti wine price goes, costs vary. Depending on the blend of varietals, whether the Chianti is organic or not, production methods, aging, etc., costs will differ a lot. A Chianti Classico may cost more than a Chianti, and a Chianti Classico Riserva will probably cost the most. Chianti has a reputation in the United States as being cheap table wine. In reality it can be very excellent wine if you know what to look for. Some of the best affordable Chianti brands include Cecchi Chianti DOCG, Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG, and Bolla Chianti DOCG.

The Chianti Classico region

The Chianti Classico region embodies both Florence and Siena, and covers 71,800 hectares of land. There are varying types of Chianti, including those hailing from S. Casciano in Val di Pesa, Greve in Chianti, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Poggibonsi, Radda in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, and Castelnuovo Berardenga. According to the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico, the Chianti winemaker guild, Chianti Classico is distinguishable from Chianti, and the rules for its production call for a minimum ratio of 80% Sangiovese grapes. Other permitted grapes are Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

Chianti, Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva are all best enjoyed served with food. The wines enjoy high acidity and course tannins, which cut through fatty dishes including those high in olive oil or animal fats. Some lower-priced Chianti wines are also excellent to cook with.  Open a bottle of Chianti, pour yourself a glass, and use some of the leftover to flavor Tuscan risotto with Chianti, or braise beef in Chianti wine to make stracotto al Chianti.

Book now your special and exciting wine tour: Chianti and Super tuscan Wine Tour from Florence, 3 wineries!

Wine tasting in Chianti