Sangiovese Wine Pairing

Sangiovese is indigenous to Tuscany, where it makes Chianti, the flagship wine of the region. Sangiovese is also the primary grape in the wines Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano. The quality ranges from ordinary table wine (vino di tavola) to the impressive classico superiore.

Sangiovese represents 10% of Italy’s entire vineyard acreage, the most-planted grape in the country, with 247,000 acres. Sangiovese matures and ripens slowly, and has a thin skin therefore it thrives in warm, dry climates. Limestone soil tends to produce more robust aromas in the finished wine.

Sangiovese traditionally made up 70% of Chianti, along with 15% of the red grape Canaiolo, 15% of the white grape Trebbiano and sometimes a dash of the red grape Colorino. Sangiovese, today, must account for a minimum of 90% in their Chianti with no more than 5% white grapes. The white grape Malvasia Toscana, better quality than the traditional Trebbiano, is now also permitted in the blend.

Sangiovese's Latin name, Sanguis Jovis (San Gioveto), translates to “blood of Jove or Jupiter." The first written reference to the grape was in 1722.

Sangiovese was planted in California in the late 1800s by Italian immigrants . (I profile the Serghesio family in my book Red, White and Drunk All Over. They are believed to have first planted these vines.) Sangiovese-based wines have never succeeded in New World regions as well as have other transplanted European varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah/Shiraz.

Sangiovese’s signature aromas include black cherries, raspberries, blueberries, violets, black plums, prunes clove, thyme, anise and if oaked, smoke, tar and vanilla. Sangiovese has a medium- to full-body, a supple texture and a pleasant bitter-tinged finish. Sangiovese also has pronounced acidity, which makes it especially companionable to many Italian dishes with tomato sauce. Sangiovese pairs well with these foods:

Sangiovese Wine with cheese:

     • cheese sandwich: grilled
     • parmesan
     • pecorino toscana

Sangiovese Wine with chicken/poultry:

     • chicken club sandwich
     • turkey scaloppini
     • turkey, chicken sausage, spicy

Sangiovese Wine with desserts:

     • chocolate: dark
     • chocolate: dark/almond

Sangiovese Wine with ethnic dishes:

     • Mexican dishes
     • steak fajitas

Sangiovese Wine with pasta:

     • lasagna
     • pasta bolognese
     • spaghetti with bolognese sauce
     • spaghetti with meat sauce
     • spaghetti with tomato sauce
     • pasta with white truffles

Sangiovese Wine with pizza:

     • pizza: Ambrosia
     • pizza: cheese
     • pizza: Chicago
     • pizza: Italian-style
     • pizza: Neapolitan
     • pizza: pepperoni/meat

Sangiovese Wine with pork:

     • salami toscana
     • sausage: spicy

Sangiovese Wine with sauces, spices, herbs:

     • sauce: mushroom
     • sauce: pungent olives, capers, anchovies

Sangiovese Wine with seafood & shellfish:

     • fish: barbecued
     • fish: light fleshed: broiled

Sangiovese Wine with veal:

     • veal: breaded cutlets
     • veal escalope layered with smoked ham
     • veal stuffed with sausage

Sangiovese Wine with vegetables & salads:

     • mushrooms: truffles
     • tomatoes: green


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