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In Good Taste

Introduction to Chianti

Introduction to Chianti

A True Taste of Italy

Ciao! Let’s take a trip to experience the beautiful sights and incredible history in Tuscany, Italy. Are you ready? This is going to be an incredible adventure. Grab your passport and pack your bags, because we’ve got a flight to catch!

Oh, wait, so you mean it’s a little bit too last minute to just hop on a plane to travel halfway around the world to Italy? That’s understandable, we got a little carried away. Luckily, we’ve got an alternative that will transport your taste buds and senses to the Tuscan countryside, and you don’t even need a passport to get there. Instead, simply pour yourself a glass of the bonafide classic in Italian wine – Chianti. 

History and Origin of Chianti

Chianti has been around for a long time, and we mean a very long time – nearly 700 years. The earliest record of Chianti can be traced back to the year 1398 in documents that note it as a white wine. Similar documents from the time period later note it as a red wine, which is more in line with a modern-day Chianti. It became widely recognized as a red wine by the 18th century. 

History and Origin of Chianti

In 1716, Chianti became one of the world’s first legally defined wine zones (other wine zones include those such as Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava). It was in this year that the Tuscan grand duke Cosimo III declared that the land centered on the townships of Gaiole, Radda, Castellina, and Greve would be the official production area for wines called Chianti. Today, this specific region is home to a designation of Chianti known as Chianti Classico DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), which produces some of the highest quality Chianti. Chianti Classico is known for being branded with a black rooster, or gallo negro. On the shelf look for bottles with the rooster and DOCG labeling

Chianti Region of Modern Day Production

Beyond Chianti Classico, modern-day Chianti has a larger production region than the one first defined by our dear friend Cosimo III over 300 years ago. There are seven sub-zones within the Chianti DOCG region, which is a different classification entirely from Chianti Classico DOCG. These sub-zones include: 

  • Chianti Colli Aretini

  • Chianti Colli Fiorentini

  • Chianti Colli Senesi

  • Chianti Colline Pisane

  • Chianti Montalbano

  • Chianti Montespertoli

  • Chianti Rufina

Each Chianti sub-region has slightly different requirements for production, resulting in distinct aromas and flavors between each zone’s version of this Italian classic. 

You may recognize Chianti in stores by its signature bottle, the “fiasco”. Don’t worry, it’s not quite as chaotic as it sounds. This is a flask-shaped bottle that is usually packaged in a straw basket. Although modern Chiantis are often packaged in standard wine bottles, historically, the straw-basketed fiasco was a tell-tale sign that the wine inside was a Chianti. 

How Chianti is Made

At the base of every Chianti is the beloved Sangiovese grape. For a Chianti to meet legal requirements in Italy, it must be made with at least an 80% blend of Sangiovese, with some iterations being 100% Sangiovese. If the Chianti is a blend, other varietals that might make it into the mix include Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Typically, depending on the region and classification of the Chianti, the wine is then aged in barrels anywhere from 6 months to 2.5 years. 

How is Chianti Made?

How to Serve Chianti

To fully experience the full range of aromas in your Chianti, serve at room temperature (think castle room temp – we often drink our reds too warm, but 55-60 degrees is optimal serving temp). If you’re not already storing your wines in a wine fridge, you can simply place your reds in the kitchen fridge for 20-30 minutes before serving. Enjoy served in a red wine glass, which features a wide bowl that gives the wine a chance to breathe and enhance. This allows each nuanced note and complex aroma to shine, giving you the ultimate taste of this Italian classic. 

How to Serve Chianti

When choosing dishes to serve with your Chianti, the tried and true saying “if it grows together, it goes together” is a good rule of thumb. Notably, Italian dishes that feature tomatoes pair especially well with a nice Chianti. Fresh pasta with a rich, tomato-based sauce, Margherita pizzas, and savory charcuterie boards all make for excellent companions to let the aromas of your Chianti shine through. However, it is worth noting that Chianti is a very food-friendly wine that gets along with many different dishes. If you’re on the hunt for an exceptional red wine to pair with your favorite dish, consider Chianti your new go-to!

See, Smell, and Taste Notes

With Chianti being primarily made from Sangiovese, a thin-skinned grape, it tends to be slightly translucent and light in color. Chiantis are known for their bright, ruby red color. Aged Chiantis will have hints of rust, auburn, and orange as well. 

See, Taste & Smell Notes of Chianti Wine

Chianti is light-bodied with a uniquely savory flavor, notable tannins, and a fair amount of acidity. Common tasting notes associated with Chianti include tart cherries, balsamic vinegar, dried herbs, smoke, and game. 

Chianti is an absolute classic that embodies all that is good in Italian and Old World wines. If you’re looking for a delicious wine to pair with an incredible pasta while also expanding your palate, look no further than the time-tested flavors of Chianti!

Rosé of Sangiovese

Andiamo

Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.

$19.99

Montepulciano

Andiamo

Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Unprecedented

If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

Pinot Noir

Unprecedented

We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

Coteaux Bourguignons

Passport

The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.

$25.99

Verdicchio

Andiamo

A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.

$23.99

Côtes du Rhône White

Passport

This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.

$23.99

Bordeaux Rouge

Passport

When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.

$21.99

Ventoux Rosé

Passport

You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.

$21.99

Tempranillo

Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.

Grenache

La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.

$27.99

Moscato

Andiamo

This grape goes by different names in most European countries, but what remains the same is its fruity floral nature. Delicate in every way and extremely quaffable, this wine is as dainty as they come.

Barbera

Andiamo

We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.

Vermentino

Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.

$23.99

Viognier

Unprecedented

For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.

$24.99

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