The straw covered Chianti bottle is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The reason is image. The quality of Chianti has steadily improved of the past several decades. Prodeucers are anxious to lose that association between a Chianti bottle and a college dorm room candlestick.

Quick Chianti Facts:

As in France, the wine made from the Sangiovese grape is named after the region in which it is produced. Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montelcino are all Sangiovese based wines.

The Chianti region is divided into seven districts. The two best are Chianti Classico, the heart of the region, and Chianti Rufina, the only other district that can rival Classico.

According to D.O.C.G. requirements, Chianti must contain at least 75% Sangiovese. Aside from Canaiolo, regulations allow 10% for an "optional grape" such as Cabernet Sauvignon. These changes have greatly improved the quality of Chianti in the last 15 years.

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Click on the above link to return to the main wine and food page. There you will find a listing of twelve different varieties of wine and the menus specially chosen to create perfect pairings. Chianti is one of most popular wines in the U.S. And for good reason. It is one of the most food friendly wines around. Click the black bars above each photo to view the recipes.
It seems appropriate that the grape that produces Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino should be named after Jove, the most powerful of the Roman gods. Sangiovese, or the blood of Jove, is a finicky and genetically unstable grape that, given the perfect conditions, yields a wine of extraordinary complexity, depth and strength. But these perfect conditions occur only sporadically, and in an off year the grapes will not fully ripen and the wine will be bitter and harsh. Baron Ricasoli, a Tuscan winemaker, knew the potential of the Sangiovese grape but also recognized it's limitations. Consistency was important to his burgeoning wine industry. In 1836, to disguise the some grape's faults and even out yearly quality, Baron Ricasoli added the softer, more forgiving Canaiolo grape to the Sangiovese resulting in a lighter and more approachable wine. Thus, Chianti was born.
Situated in Tuscany between Florence and Siena, the Chianti region has a centuries-old tradition of winemaking, but it was the success of Ricasoli's new beverage that thrust the region and the wine into the limelight. Inferior brews calling themselves "Chianti" began to pop up all over Italy and even as far afield as America! With no legal apparatus in place to protect it's name, Chianti came to represent any light red wine regardless of its origin or recipe. In 1924, to combat these pretenders to the Chianti throne, several producers banded together to form a consortium whose sole purpose was to oversee and protect the production of Chianti. The Gallo Nero, or Black Cockerel, as the consortium was called, still symbolizes quality appearing on the neck and cork of wines by member producers.
The Gallo Nero was only the first step in the regulation of wine quality in Italy. In 1963 and again in the 1980's the Italian Governmant established regional standards similar to the appellation system in France. Designated by the initials DOC or DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, which roughly translates as controlled place name or controlled and guaranteed place name) these wines represent the epitome of winemaking standards in Italy. Finding these letters on the label means that the government guarantees that all of the grapes used to produce that wine came from the region named. It also specifies the percentage of each grape that can be used within a given blend, as well as the alcohol content and the aging requirements. With these strict new regulations in place the once familiar straw- wrapped flask of friendly but forgettable wine is nearly a thing of the past. It has been replaced by a greatly improved medium-bodied wine that is, even in today's market, a remarkable value.