Liquor Laboratory

ll logo white
ll logo white

Sangiovese vs Chianti: Decoding Italy’s Beloved Wines

Sangiovese vs Chianti

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 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!

Sangiovese Vs Chianti: 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

FeatureSangioveseChianti
Originating RegionItalyItaly
Grape VarietySangiovese grape70% Sangiovese, the remaining 30% can be any grape variety grown in Italy
FlavorsFruity and herbaceousFruity and savory 
Alcohol Content13% to 14.5% ABV12.5% to 14% ABV
Wine StylesDryDry
RegulationCan be made anywhere in ItalyMade only in the Chianti region
Decanting RecommendationsNot necessary1 to 2 hours before serving 
Recommended GlassTulipBordeaux
Average PriceEntry 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

Chianti vs Sangiovese: While these two wine category taste almost similar in terms of sweetness, they have several differences.

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

Palate

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.

Aroma

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.

Color

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

Finish

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.

Body

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]

Different Types Of Chianti

Sangiovese is a red grape variety widely grown in Italy, particularly in the central regions of Tuscany and Umbria. It is one of the most prominent grape varieties in Italian winemaking. This grape variety is fundamentally used for producing popular Italian wines. Many people want to drink Chianti wines with 100% Sangiovese. So here are the key characteristics that you should look for when buying Chianti wines.

Flavor Profile

Sangiovese wines typically exhibit flavors of red cherry, strawberry, and plum. Depending on the winemaking techniques and the region, the wine can also have notes of dried herbs, violet, leather, and sometimes a characteristic earthiness.

Acidity and Tannins

Sangiovese is known for its high acidity, which adds freshness and brightness to the wine. The tannins in Sangiovese wines are usually moderate, contributing to a balanced structure.

Styles of Sangiovese Wine

Chianti

Chianti is one of the most famous Italian wines made predominantly from Sangiovese. It can range from light and fruity to complex and full-bodied, depending on the specific Chianti classification (Chianti, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva).

Brunello di Montalcino

Made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes, Brunello di Montalcino is a prestigious and age-worthy wine from the Montalcino region. It is known for its rich, full-bodied nature and ability to age gracefully.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Another important Sangiovese-based wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, comes from the town of Montepulciano. It often displays a balance of fruitiness and structure.

Super Tuscans

Some producers create “Super Tuscans” by blending Sangiovese with international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. These wines often have a more modern and international style.

Food Pairing

Sangiovese wines, with their versatility and acidity, pair well with a variety of foods. They are excellent matches for traditional Italian dishes, including pasta, pizza, roasted meats, and hard cheeses.

Aging Potential

Depending on the style and the winemaking approach, Sangiovese wines can be enjoyed young or can age gracefully, developing more complexity and tertiary aromas over time.

Sangiovese’s popularity extends beyond Italy, with plantings in various wine regions around the world. However, it is in Italy, especially in Tuscany, that Sangiovese has achieved its greatest acclaim.

FAQs Related to Sangiovese vs Chianti

What is Sangiovese?

Sangiovese is a red wine grape variety native to Italy, particularly prominent in central regions such as Tuscany and Umbria. It’s known for its high acidity, moderate tannins, and flavors of red cherry, plum, and earthy undertones.

What is Chianti?

Chianti is a red wine made primarily from Sangiovese grapes in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. It’s one of Italy’s most famous and historic wine regions, known for producing wines with bright acidity, red fruit flavors, and herbal notes.

How do Sangiovese and Chianti differ?

Sangiovese is a grape variety, while Chianti is a wine made predominantly from Sangiovese grapes. Chianti can be considered a specific type of wine that showcases the characteristics of the Sangiovese grape within the Chianti region’s terroir.

What are the flavor profiles of Sangiovese and Chianti?

Sangiovese wines typically exhibit flavors of red cherry, plum, strawberry, and earthy nuances, along with high acidity and moderate tannins. Chianti wines, being primarily Sangiovese-based, share similar flavor profiles but may also include additional complexities influenced by winemaking techniques and aging.

Are Sangiovese wines only produced in the Chianti region?

No, Sangiovese is cultivated in various regions throughout Italy and worldwide. While it’s most famously associated with Tuscany and Chianti, Sangiovese is also grown in other regions such as Umbria, Emilia-Romagna, and California.

What are the different styles of Chianti?

Chianti comes in several styles, including Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina, and Chianti Colli Senesi, among others. Chianti Classico is considered the heart of the Chianti region and is known for producing some of the highest-quality Chianti wines.

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.

References:

  1. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/gods-and-goddesses-ancient-rome/
  2. https://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/articles/how-to-chill-wine-fast-a-step-by-step-guide
Lumint ad Side Bar
Flex Ad Side Bar