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If you are familiar with the movie “Silence of the Lambs”, you may be familiar with the scene in which Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) reveals the extent of his criminal past to attorney Jodie Foster. You may recall the look of psychosis in the doctor’s eye as he proudly confesses, “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” While we may question Lecter’s gastronomical preferences, no one can fault him for his taste in wine.
The Love Affair with Chianti
Of all Italian wines in history, Chianti is probably the most written about, drank, and discussed. Why do you think it was used in “Silence?’ A red blend with Tuscan origins, Chianti is probably as much of a staple of the Italian diet as olive oil.
What is Chianti?
Chianti (pronounced “key-on-tee”) is made with Sangiovese grapes in Tuscany, Italy, Its bears the flavors of bitter herbs, game, smoke, red fruits, and balsamic vinegar, with premium notes of dried oregano, espresso, dry salami, sweet tobacco, and sour cherries. Sangiovese grapes are thin skinned, giving the Chianti its translucence. Like most aged wines, it appears ruby red in the glass with bright burnt orange flashes. Chiantis may also contain white grapes like Merlot, Canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Chianti Food Pairing
Chianti’s is savory and is known for its strong tannin and high acidity which makes it a great complement to food. Chianti’s high acidity comes through when paired with rich fatty dishes, such as pizza, while the tannin makes it perfect for dishes made with olive oil or rich cuts of meat. Chianti is known to work especially well with tomato- based sauces and is specifically recommended as an accompaniment to Bistecca all a Fiorentina, a dry porterhouse steak. You may also like it with lava beans and liver.
Chianti In America
Chianti first appeared in America after World War II, poured from straw covered bottles known as fiaschi, or flasks. However, by the 1960’s, Chianti became subject to cheap production and over planting in an effort to keep up with the growing demand for the wine. The result was a thin, acidic wine, which caused its popularity to wane. In 1971, Italian growers reacted by adding nontraditional varieties like merlot and cabernet sauvignon to the wine to give it extra body. These wines are now known as Super Tuscans. More traditional winemakers responded by making 100% sangiovese wines with superior grapes matching the Super Tuscan in quality and elegance.
If you are enjoying some Chianti this holiday season, we’d love to hear from you sober of otherwise! Let us know what you’re thinking and remember to drink responsibly!