Food Pairings with Chianti
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of Chianti on its own. However, in Italy, wine and food go together…so do as the Italians do, and experiment with these pairing suggestions!
(PS. If you’re a newbie with terms like “tannins” or “acids” – like what does that even mean!?! – then read the section called “Some Tips”.)
WHAT TO ENJOY WITH…
Chianti is a high acid wine with notes of dried cherries, violets, tart red fruits, pepper, and a little earth (in a good way!). Tannins are present, but not overpowering in this wine. The acidity of a wine is one of its most appealing characteristics, enhancing its refreshing, crisp qualities as well as enabling wines to be paired with foods so successfully. Acidity complements foods in a palate-cleansing, refreshing manner. The acidity is usually tasted as soon as it comes into contact with the sides of your tongue, similar to biting into a cold Granny Smith apple.
A margarita pizza pairs wonderfully with Chianti. The acidity of the wine matches the acidity of the sauce and the moderate tannins cut through the salty and melty mozzarella. Feel free to also add toppings!
Try Chianti with charcuterie and cheese! The light- to medium-bodied Chianti works great with a variety of meats, sausages, and cheeses, especially harder cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino. It’s a casual wine for sipping and snacking – enjoy yourself and don’t think too hard!
Other pairing recs: Burgers; chicken Caesar salad; that Lean Cuisine in your freezer.
Chianti Superiore is a youthful, inviting wine with fresh black cherry, and hints of sweet spice. Like Chianti, it has lively acidity, but is also balanced by a clean and strong structure due to the longer aging in oak barrels (vs. straight-up Chianti). It’s sophisticated with a little oompf!
Pair Chianti Superiore with barbecued chicken – the smokiness of the grill will complement the smokier notes in the wine, but the lightness of the white meat and zingy BBQ sauce match the levity and acidity of the wine.
Cheese tortellini with chunky vegetable and marinara sauce also makes a great match. The dish marries richness (cheese!) with fresh flavors (the tomatoes and veggies) – and richness and freshness are also both present in the wine.
Other pairing recs: Roasted eggplant drizzled in olive oil; pork chops; a grilled cheese sandwich with slices of fresh tomato.
Chianti Classico has inviting floral and fruit aromas with the same tart cherry notes as Chianti. It also showcases more elegant and complex nuances of earth, dried herbs, and leather. Once you get to know Chianti Classico, you’ll smell it, you’ll taste it, and it will just remind you…of Italy.
Enjoy Chianti Classico and its earthier qualities with earthy ingredients, such as mushrooms. Try a mushroom risotto or a chicken topped with a light mushroom cream sauce and side of steamed broccoli.
Or if you’re feeling nostalgic, you could try Chianti Classico with your mom’s meatloaf recipe! The savory flavors in the meatloaf complement the savory and juicy notes of the wine. Go all out and serve it with a big helping of mashed potatoes.
Other pairing recs: Grilled fish; hearty stews; pasta Bolognese; a cheese platter.
Chianti Classico Riserva
Chianti Classico Riserva takes it up a notch or two with even more oak aging, giving the wine vanilla, liquorice, and even chocolate notes. It’s round, spicy, elegant, and well structured with concentrated dried cherries, herbs, and rugged earthiness.
A superb pairing for Chianti Classico Riserva is a succulent roast, such as a juicy rack of lamb. Don’t be scared…Google a recipe and put that oven of yours to use. The integrated tannins of the wine will cut through the juicy bites of lamb…and the gamey notes of the wine will match up beautifully with the meat.
And we know it’s cliché, but another perfetto pairing for Chianti Classico Riserva is a classical Italian meal. Start with homemade fettuccini pasta with a fresh tomato sauce. The acidity of the wine alongside the texture of the pasta and brightness of the sauce will rock your world. Finish up with a Bistecca Fiorentina, the juicy, charcoal-grilled t-bone steak that’s ideal for sharing.
Other pairing recs: Lasagna; herb-crusted, roasted meats; wild boar; rich mushroom ravioli.
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