Artisan Cheeses By Wine Type: Chianti
Ah, Chianti. In the "old days", Chianti was the basket-bottle wine, served on a red checked tablecloth, holding a romantic candle. In a modern reworking, Chianti now usually comes in a standard glass bottle, looking for a more elegant image. If you're a traditionalist, however, some brands still use the basket.
Chianti comes from the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. Only wines from this region can properly be called Chianti, although some other areas are using the name on their labels.
Chianti was first identified as a type in the 13th century. Its primary red grapes are Sangiovese and Canaiolo, while the main whites are are Trebbiano and Malvasia. There are now seven Chianti zones, defined by the Dalmasso Commission in 1932:
Chianti Colli Fiorentini (Florentine hills)
Colli Senesi (Siena hills)
Colline Pisane (Pisan hills)
Colli Aretini (Arezzo hills)
These demarcations are not quite as well done as the similar ones in France. The Classico, for example, was initially set by edict in 1716. With the expansion in 1932, they were pushed to include inferior vineyards, and suffered as a consequence. Other areas were expanded in a more logical manner. It is still wisest to learn about the actual winery the Chianti comes from, instead of relying solely on the zone the wine comes from.
Chianti is a red wine, strong and bold. Typical flavors in a Chianti include cherry, plum, strawberry, spice, almonds, tobacco, vanilla and coffee. Chianti goes well with well-seasoned foods. Chianti is often called a "fruity" wine, meaning it appeals to new wine drinkers.
Chianti, being a red wine, is best served from a red wine glass. The glass shown above is the specific glass recommended by Riedel for drinking Chianti. The glass emphasizes its fruity flavors.
Current marketing of the Chianti name includes a "Black Rooster" emblem - wineries in the Chianti Classico have started using this rooster to build regional recognition for their wines. Chianti should be served at 59F and is good for up to 10 years, for a good variety. If you can find any, 1997 was considered by many to be the "vintage of the century".