Guest Blogger Robin: Chianti Wine for Dummies


With the US Dollar falling, it is getting increasing difficult to find good wine from Italy that is affordable. It is almost unheard of to get a quality Chianti Classico Riserva, for under $25. But, when I do, I do the *happy dance*, and celebrate. Almost like I was stomping the grapes myself or somehow had something to do with its quality, texture, color or taste.

What is the difference between a Chianti and a Chianti Classico Riserva you ask? Let’s backtrack a little.

Chianti is a geographic wine-growing area of Italy. All Chianti wine from this region is regulated by a government organization called the DOCG, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controlla e Garantita. This just means there is a Italian governing body overseeing the wine you are drinking. It is guaranteed to be from that area, meeting specific criteria, including the location and yields of the vineyards.  Or in Italian … “You don’t-a wanna follow da rules – you no sell-a you wine!” How can you tell if a wine has come from this area? Well, you know that colorful pink paper label that is wrapped around the neck of the bottle? That has a DOCG seal on it.

Within this area are sub-regions, one of the most popular and well known is the Chianti ClassicoChianti Classico wine is not only under the DOCG, but is also identified by the Gallo Nero, black rooster, on the bottle. These wines are looked at as the best of the best Chianti, and have a higher alcohol content.

Stick with me here. Within this Chianti Classico designation comes the Riserva. The difference here is that on top of the DOCG classification and the gallo nero, to be a Riserva, the wine must be aged for at least 27 months, the last 3 months of which happens in the bottle. This is why you will never see an authentic Chianti Classico Riserva 2006, offered for sale in 2007. Quello e impossibile! 

So, although it may be a bit confusing, I think you can see how Chianti table wine in the fat, round, straw bottle is very inexpensive, and how a high end Chianti Classico Riserva, with its quality distinction and aging process, commands a much higher price.

Two of my favorite affordable Chianti Classico Riserva’s under $25 are a 2003 Riserva, from Castello Monsanto and 2001 La Selvanella from Melini. Of course 2001 and 2003 were good years for Chianti … but how to judge a good year, is another lesson entirely.

I love to try new wines, so tell me … what are some of your favorites?

Photos: Shots around Chianti, Italy.  Chianti Classico logo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Cherrye’s Note: This post was originally posted here. Robin’s love affair with Europe shines in her writing, her post topics, her photos and tips.

8 Responses
  1. We are quite taken right now with a red from Montenegro, which was introduced to us by a friend from Serbia. Affordable and a nice table wine. Vranac is the grape variety I think.

  2. Cherrye, thanks for the kind words and the opportunity to share some wine with your readers!! I can get used to this guest blogger gig 🙂 So much fun!!!

    Thank you for the suggestions Tom and running42k!!! I will try to find both of these and give ’em a try!

    And Michelle, every night is a wine lesson at my house. Open a new bottle, sip, enjoy and discuss. I think you should come over to my place so we can have a *lesson* together. But maybe I’ll explore some more lessons in a post, if that is what you meant 😉

  3. Hi Robin…didn;t realize it was you (My Melange) most nights in my house is a “Wine Lesson”…think I will have to change things, get out and give my body a work out!!!

  4. Great lesson, Robin! Right now one of my favourites is Rossese di Dolceacqua, a red wine from Liguria. I’m not sure if they sell it in the States though.

  5. Thanks for the wine idea, Tom. I am such a wine dummy!

    Yea! Another great wine, Running. I need to make a list.

    Robin and Michelle – I think you both mean you want Robin to do a lesson at Il Cedro and Michelle can come visit?? That works for me!

    Anne – do you do wine lessons at your place, too? Great!

    Linda – Adding it to the list. Grazie!

    Somepinkflowers – I am glad Italy changed your mind.

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