Sangiovese vs Chianti: Decoding Italy’s Beloved Wines

Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by Lydia Martin

For most wine lovers, Sangiovese and Chianti are Italian wines in the world of wine, beloved for their rich history, distinct characteristics, and undeniable charm.

However, it can be challenging to distinguish what sets Sangiovese and Chianti apart.

If you want to learn more about Sangiovese vs Chianti and discover their different flavors, stick around!

Chianti & Sangiovese Italian Wines In-Depth Comparison

Woman Holding Two Glasses of Wine

Firstly, it’s important to know that both Chianti and Sangiovese wines are made from the Sangiovese grape variety primarily grown in Central Italy. Sangiovese refers to a red grape known for its red fruit flavors, zesty acidity, and savory notes.

“Sangiovese: Where Italy’s heart meets your glass.” – Liquor Laboratory 

So, to put it simply, both wines are made from the same grapes. However, Chianti wines are specifically made in the Chianti wine region in Tuscany and blended with other grape varieties like cabernet, merlot, or syrah.

On the other hand, Sangiovese wine can be made anywhere in the world (not just in the same region of Italy). Sangiovese is an Italian word that translates roughly to “blood of love.” This is a reference to Jupiter, an ancient Roman god. [1]

Chianti vs Sangiovese Comparison Table

Feature Sangiovese Chianti
Originating Region Italy Italy
Grape Variety Sangiovese grape 70% Sangiovese, the remaining 30% can be any grape variety grown in Italy
Flavors Fruity and herbaceous Fruity and savory 
Alcohol Content 13% to 14.5% ABV 12.5% to 14% ABV
Wine Styles Dry Dry
Regulation Can be made anywhere in Italy Made only in the Chianti region
Decanting Recommendations Not necessary 1 to 2 hours before serving 
Recommended Glass Tulip Bordeaux
Average Price Entry level: Around $10

Mid-range: Around $15 to $25 

Premium: Around $30 to $80 

Entry level: Around $10

Mid-range: Around $15 to $25 

Premium: Starts at $50 

Star Rating ★★★★★ ★★★★

Main Differences

History & Origin

Originating from Italian regions, Sangiovese is a piece of history in a bottle. This grape has deep roots and has been a beloved tradition. This type of wine may go by other names, such as Sangiovese Grosso.

On the other hand, Chianti wines are made from Sangiovese grapes, but they must be made from the Chianti region in Tuscany, Italy.

Tasting Profile

Woman Drinking Wine


Sangiovese is a bold and full-bodied red wine with plenty of ripe fruit tasting notes and noticeable notes of black cherries, grapes, and blackberries. The red wine also brings along herbaceous flavors like truffles and licorice.

Chianti red wine has even more fruity flavors alongside earthiness and other savory notes.


The aroma of Sangiovese wine resembles that of a basket of ripe red berries. Chianti is richer with a more complex flavor profile with notes of leather and tobacco in the nose.


Both Sangiovese and Chianti have a deep ruby-red hue.


Sangiovese wines are typically dry in their finish, with flavors like black tea, chocolate, tobacco, and sour cherries lingering until the next sip.

Chianti Classico has a lot more depth and complexity. The red wine finishes with flavors of black cherry, violet, and herbs, with savory flavors and a tannic structure that dries your mouth.

Wine Making Process

Both wines start with the Sangiovese grapes in Tuscany, Italy, harvested when they’re perfectly ripe.

Once harvested, the grapes are gently crushed. The Sangiovese grape juice is then fermented, where yeast works its magic, turning sugars into alcohol.

They are then aged in stainless steel tanks, barrels, or other vessels – depending on the desired style of the wine and its price point.

After the aging process, the wine is carefully filtered, and any necessary adjustments are made. The wine is finally bottled at this stage.

Aging Process & Aging Potential

Person Pouring Wine on a Decanter

Chianti needs plenty of time to age to achieve the right flavors. The standard Chianti Italian wine ages three months, while Chianti Classico must age inside oak barrels for at least 11 months. Chianti Superiore ages slightly shorter at just nine months.

Chianti Riserva, a very complex Chianti, ages for at least two years. Lastly, the Chianti Gran Selezione is aged inside barrels for a whopping 30 months.

The aging potential of Chianti wines is long, thanks to its rich tannins and other compounds that help it mature gracefully.

Conversely, Sangiovese’s grapes may or may not be aged inside neutral oak barrels – it ultimately depends on the winemaker’s style. This type of Italian wine is best enjoyed while young and vibrant.


Regarding the body of Sangiovese vs Chianti, Chianti Classico has a medium to full body, while Sangiovese has a more medium body.

Acidity & Tannins

Sangiovese has a captivating medium to high acidity. Its tannins are textured, which adds subtle herbaceous notes to the wine.

On the other hand, Chianti Classico leans towards tart acidity and high tannins but remains smooth and polished.

Serving Temperature

Both Sangiovese and Chianti will be greatly enjoyed at room temperature.

However, if you want to switch things up, serve Sangiovese slightly chilled at 60-65°F (15-18°C) to make it more delightful and refreshing.

“Chianti is the essence of Tuscany in a bottle, a symphony of flavors that captures the beauty of Italy’s heart.” – James Suckling, Wine Critic 

Chianti will benefit from being slightly cooler at 55-60°F (12-15°C). This temperature enhances its bright acidity and fruity notes even more. [2]


Can Chianti be 100% Sangiovese?

No, Chianti doesn’t have to be 100% Sangiovese. For a wine to be labeled as Chianti DOCG, it must be made with 70% Sangiovese grapes, with the other 30% made from other wines like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Is Sangiovese light or heavy?

Sangiovese is right in the middle of light and heavy. It typically falls into the category of medium-bodied red wines with vibrant, fruit-driven flavors and a touch of herbal charm.

Final Thoughts

So, to sum Sangiovese vs Chianti up, we can safely conclude that they are both dry wines made from the Sangiovese grapes grown in Tuscany, Italy.

We like Sangiovese’s medium-bodied wine with high acidity and concentrated fruity flavors, such as black cherry, strawberry, and plum, with some herbal notes. Popular Sangiovese wine food pairings include classic Italian dishes with tomato sauces and hard cheeses.

Many wine styles are made from Sangiovese grapes, such as Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Vin Santo, and Super Tuscan wines.

On the other hand, Chianti has to be made in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy, for it to be labeled Chianti wine. It must also be made with 70% Sangiovese grapes, with the remaining 30% coming from other grape varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.

Like Pinot Noir, Chianti has a more fruit-forward profile, but it’s more earthy and savory with high tannins. Chianti pairs exceptionally well with pasta dishes with red sauce, smoky meats, firm cheeses, and savory carbohydrates.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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