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Chianti Wine and Food Pairing – Perfect Matching

Whether it gained its fame from The Godfather or The Silence of the Lambs (or more likely because it’s the most common Italian wine found outside of Italy), Chianti is a ubiquitous variety of red wine.

Hailing from Tuscany in central Italy, Chianti (like with most Old World wines) refers to a region rather than a grape. The grape used in Chianti is Sangiovese (or at leat 80%; other varieties such as Cabernet, Syrah or Canaiolo are often blended with Sangiovese). The climate of Tuscany varies, with warmer conditions in the south and cooler hill country in the central region – much Chianti from these hill regions is recognised and the best expressions of the region.

Chianti wine comes from the region of Chianti in Tuscany, where vineyards pepper sloping hills in this central part of Italy

Because of the widely varied terroir, Chianti ranges from light to full bodied, but is almost always dry and tannic, with red fruits such as strawberries and tart cherries. It is often earthy and farm-like (usually in a good way!), and pretty much demands to be eaten with something rich, fatty and savoury to help enhance what can be a rather rustic wine.

You’ll typically come across Chianti or Chiani Classico, the latter being from more premiere vineyards and thus more refined (and expensive). With so much Chianti on the market, there is of course plenty of rubbish out there – I know I’ve had a few too many. However, there are some really fantastic bottles, which show how beautiful Sangiovese from this region of Italy can be.

Classico or not, Chianti should be eaten with food to be fully enjoyed. Italian food is the obvious option, but Chianti can be enjyoed with a range of dishes. Here are a few recommendations:

Chianti is a varietal of red wine that is usually rustic and earthy, and best when served alongside comforting, savoury food

Pasta

There’s nothing quite like a Chianti and a big bowl of rich, savoury pasta. A spag bowl or a meaty ragu are great options, but you don’t need to limit yourself to red sauce –  warm pasta tossed with a generous pour of good olive oil, a sprinkling of cheese and some fresh cracked pepper is also a perfect matching for this wine – after all, Tuscany is known as the land of Chianti and olive oil.

Pizza

Another obvious Italian answer, but think outside of the box; you don’t need to limit yourself to salami or margarita – try a variety of mixed veggies, spices, herbs, or whatever you like best on top of your dough. As long as there is an umami-rich base and some salty, melted cheese involved, this is a pairing you can’t really screw up.

Meat & Cheese Plate

Chianti’s rusticity can be a good thing, but it borders on harsh when sipped on its own – if you don’t have a full meal planned, opt for a simple meat and cheese board. Chianti’s blend of spice, herbs, fruit and tannins need somethieng equally complex. Cured meats like Prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele balance of saltiness, sweetness, and fat – ideal for those such a wine. Similarly, Chianti can stand up to a range of bold cheeses. Italian meat and cheese is an easy answer, but other European or local Australian products are a great idea, too.
Check out some of our other food and wine pairing ideas here.

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Jill Haapaniemi

Jill Haapaniemi

Jill is a lover of all things food and wine. As a food blogger and recipe developer, she is passionate about sharing meals with others, never without a bottle of something to enhance the experience. She spends her free time at her partner’s family winery just outside of Melbourne, and can usually be found drinking Oregon Pinot, wines from the Rhône Valley or Victorian Shiraz.
Jill Haapaniemi

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Torre di Montemaggio IGT is a red Tuscan wine made from pure Merlot. It is one of the fist wines that was produced at Montemaggio. Its name is derived from the 14th century tower that once stood above the old Roman road between Siena and Florence. An intense ruby colour, elegant taste, delicate bouquet, full of berry tones characterize this wine, whose full flavour and balanced acidity is highly esteemed abroad as well.