Tuscany’s food and wine culture is as rich as its history and monuments. A visit to Tuscany should include some culinary experiences and wine tasting. The major player on the Tuscan wine scene is the well known and revered Chianti. With so many different types to chose from, how does one know one from the other?
What is Chianti Classico?
Chianti wine is one of the most famous in Italy. It is grown in an area between Florence and Siena that covers more than 71000 hectares. When buying a bottle of Chianti you might notice how many different types of Chianti exist. For example, what is the difference between Chianti and Chianti classico? What makes a Chianti a Gran Riserva or Gran Selezione?
Here is a quick guide to Chianti and a few ideas for wine tasting tours:
What is the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico
The main difference between Chianti Classico and Chianti is that the first follows stricter guidelines. To be a Chianti Classico, the wine must be produced in the original historic area of Chianti. It must contain at least 80% Sangiovese grapes and be aged for a minimum of 10 months.
On the other hand, Chianti can be grown in a much more extensive area. It has to contain a minimum of 70% Sangiovese grapes and can use up to 10% of white grape varieties. It is only aged for a minimum of 3 months.
What are Chianti Classico Gran Selezione or Gran Riserva’s distinguishing factors?
In recent years, new appellations, such as Chianti Classico Gran Selezione and Chianti Classico Gran Riserva, have been created to distinguish high quality wines from their more humble counterparts. Chianti Classico Gran Riserva is aged for at least two years and rested in bottles for 3 months while Chianti Classico Gran Selezione is aged for 30 months. Wine producers also have to follow strict rules about grape provenance and alcohol content.
How to serve Chianti Classico Wine
The experts recommend to make sure your bottle of Chianti is between 16 and 18 degree celsius before you open it. The cork must be pulled out without excessive shaking of the bottle. Don’t pierce through the cork, it could leave particles in the wine.
The wine can be poured in glasses immediately only if it is a Chianti Classico giovane (i.e. young wine). If the wine is aged, it should be left to rest open for a few hours before tasting. This process allows for the flavors to fully develop. If you are rushed for time, slowly transfer the contents of the bottle into a wine decanter.
Chianti Classico wine pairings
Chianti Classico is a very versatile wine best enjoyed with food. It pairs well with most types of Italian cuisine, especially the Tuscan one. It is most often drunk with red meat, particularly steak. It can also combine well with truffle and gamey meat. Surprisingly, it works very well with cheese and even some types of fish.
The Chianti region is rich not only for its wine but also for its history and culture. Here are examples of three different wine tours. The first focuses solely on wine, while the two others combine wine tastings to cultural activities.
Option #1: Chianti Classico wine tour
This tour focuses solely on wine with visits to wineries.You will come to a new appreciation of Chianti Classico after touring the vineyard and cellar and discovering how this famous wine is made. By visiting more than one winery, you will get the opportunity to taste different wines from the extensive Chiantishire and decide for yourself which one is the right one for you!
Option #2: Medieval towns and wine tasting
This tour allows you to get a feel for the long standing history and wine tradition in the area. The Chianti region holds some of the best preserved Medieval towns in Tuscany. San Gimignano, Siena, Monteriggioni, and Greve in Chianti are just a stone’s throw from Florence and perfect places for a day away from the busy capital. There’s nothing like some wine tasting to wind down and complete a day of sightseeing.
Option #3: Visit Chianti by night
This option is for the romantic and foodie at heart. The best time to enjoy a glass of wine is definitely at sunset, surrounded by the beautiful Chiantishire landscape. Chianti Classico is best enjoyed with food. It thus makes perfect sense to extend your day tour into the evening and treat yourself to dinner and a fine bottle of wine without worrying about the drive home!