Uncork a Chianti, one of the great food wines

John Wilson: These four bottles will go perfectly with most red meats, pork and Mediterranean veggie dishes

Chianti is one of the best-known names in Italian wine. For some, it evokes memories of fiasci, those straw-wrapped bottles that were hugely popular as lamps stands in times past. Much of the wine then was at best insipid, as the authorities permitted the area designated Chianti to expand hugely, to include prolific but unsuitable terrain.

Chianti Classico is the original wine region as demarcated by Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici more than 300 years ago. It is made up of six municipalities or communes and produces almost all of the best Chianti.

Around Chianti Classico are seven subregions, the best-known of which are Rufina and Colli Senesi, which can produce good-quality wines. Then there is a much larger swathe of land used to make simple, easy, fruity wines labelled Chianti. You will find plenty of these on our supermarket shelves, including Castellori Chianti (€7.99 at Aldi) and the Volpetto Chianti Riserva (€13.95 at O’Briens).

The primary grape for Chianti is sangiovese, one of the great grapes of Italy, usually blended with other varieties. Sangiovese typically has floral aromas, high acidity, and dark cherry fruits. The best can last and improve with time.


A Chianti Riserva must spend at least two years in bottle. A Gran Selezione, made using a selection of estate-grown grapes, must be aged for at least 30 months before release.

Chianti is one of the great food wines, going perfectly with most red meats and pork, as well as rich Mediterranean vegetarian dishes.

Chianti Colli Senesi 2020 Casato dei Medici Riccardi

13%, €9.99

Medium-bodied with attractive smooth red cherry fruits and a tannin-free finish. Try it with grilled pork sausages with lentils, or herby baked Mediterranean vegetables.

From Lidl

Volpaia Chianti Classico 2021

13.5%, €34.50

A harmonious, supremely elegant Chianti with pristine cherry and wild strawberry fruits. Unputdownable.

From 1601 Kinsale; Redmond’s, D6; Browns Vineyard, Portlaoise; Pinto Wines, D9; Gibney’s, Malahide

Ama Chianti Classico 2020, Castello di Ama

13.5%, €40

Complex, voluptuous, smooth, plump dark cherry fruits with some spice and a herbal note. Perfect with a steak or roast red meats.

From Ely, Maynooth

Castello Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2019

13.5%, €65

A refined yet powerful Chianti with floral aromas, velvety red fruits and very fine tannins. Drink now with Bistecca alla Fiorentina or other red meats.

From: Whelehans Wines, Loughlinstown; Pinto Wines, D9; Deveneys, D14; Sweeneys, D3; 64 Wines, Glasthule; Drinkstore, D7; McHugh’s, D5