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.

A Big Slice is proud to present our very own wine tasting kit, the Bacchus Box, a complete evening of fun in one rosewood box! Challenge your friends to a taste off. May the best wine win! No one, not even the host, knows the identities of the selections. Observe, smell, taste, rank, vote. Was yours the nectar ...or the salad dressing? A relaxed and fun way to discover new favorites. And remember, there is always a next time with the Bacchus Box. Includes everything you need (except wine and glasses) and a free 12 minute instructional DVD. Great gift! To check out the Bacchus Box, click on the red bar above. A Big Slice is a very large website (including over 200 recipes!) that is organized thematically. But if you know what you are looking for, just click on the red bar above and it will take you to our search page. Type in the term, or recipe in the space provided and it will take you directly to that page. If any links appear to be broken, please let us know at:

Click above to return to the A Big Slice homepage. From there you will be able to visit our wine and international dinners sections. Plus we have a recipe and craft archive so you can quickly find what you are looking for. If it is contact information that you seek, that is also on the homepage - near the bottom. Thousands have already signed up for our newsletter. In 2009 we are focusing on the monthly holidays in a different way. How about a Mardi Gras Fais Do Do? Or a hearty St. Patrick's Day Irish Breakfast. We include holiday trivia and history, table settings, napkin folds and of course recipes. All we need is your email address. Click on the red bar above to sign up. Thank you!
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.