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by Staff Writer - R. Meoki | August 20, 2008

Chianti is a bold and strong red wine. Chianti is noted as a very dry wine with a very strong taste. Chianti is sometimes called a fruity wine and usually appeals to new wine drinkers. Typical flavors in Chianti are cherry, plum, strawberry, spice, almonds, tobacco, vanilla and coffee. .

Chianti is derived from a variety of wines. The two primary red grapes in Chianti are Sangiovese and Canaiolo (and the main whites are Trebbiano and Malvasia). Chianti comes from the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. The Chianti region is known for its splendid landscapes and Chianti’s popularity is tied to its fine red wines produced in the region. The Chianti region extends roughly over the two main city provinces of Florence and Siena. This region is characterized by a combination of near perfect weather and soil, which produces the Chianti wine that is considered by many to be one of the best wines in the world. .

Only wines from this region can properly be called Chianti. Chianti was first identified as a type of wine in the 13th century, dating back to the Etruscans (a member of an ancient people of central Italy whose civilization influenced the Romans) that inhabited the area before the Roman Empire. Evidence shows that the Etruscans not only cultivated grape vines, but they did grafting experiments and created vine hybrids that produced wines that were widely respected. .

In 1984, Chianti obtained the denomination D.O.C.G. (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantita, or Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin), which is the highest type of protection and recognition for quality Italian wines. .

Today there are seven noted Chianti wine producing zones or regions. These zones are defined by the Dalmasso Commission created in 1932:

  1. Chianti Classico: The more well known of the Chianti wines. Making of this wine is limited to area between Siena and Florence, Italy.
  2. Chianti Colli Fiorentini: The region near the Florentine hills.
  3. Chianti Montalbano: The area in the Montalbano hills around Pistoia.
  4. Chianti Rufini: The area of hills near Rufina to the east of Florence.
  5. Colli Aretini: The region of hills towards Arezzo.
  6. Colli Senesi: The area near the hills around Siena.
  7. Colline Pisane: The area of hills near Pisa.

Chianti Classico is by far the most common version of Chianti available on the open market. If you want a specific type of Chianti, it is best to learn about the winery that the specific Chianti comes from instead of relying solely on the zone the wine comes from. You may want to avoid Chiantis in the traditional straw covered bottles, (fiasco or flask). They are usually of inferior quality. Good Chiantis can age five to eight years while top quality wines from exceptional vintages can age beyond ten years. .

Chianti should be served at a temperature in the mid-60s. Chianti goes well with well-seasoned foods and foods with strong tastes. Chianti is excellent with pasta and other tomato sauce based dishes. The acidity of Chianti complements the acidity of the tomatoes to create a balanced blend. Chianti is also a great match with pizza. Chianti can also goes well with a variety of meats, such as veal dishes (Marsala) or any other brown sauces. Drinking Chianti with more subtle foods will overwhelm the taste of the food so it is best to have it with foods with strong tastes. .

The only way to know if Chianti is the right wine for you is to give it a try. If you prefer a dry wine with a strong, bold flavor then Chianti may end up being one of your favorite selections.

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