Chianti is my favorite type of red wine. I fell head over heels for this creation when my husband I spent two weeks in Tuscany for our honeymoon. Weaving along the narrow, winding roads we stopped in a number of wineries, each one seemingly better than the last. We brought back sixteen bottles of wine (alas, only fifteen made it, there was a casualty – but that’s another story…) and have been savoring them one by one since that magical trip. This love for Chianti has made the Italian section of the wine shop my go to area when I’m in a rush or want a ‘sure thing.’ That’s not to say all bottle’s of Chianti are the same. It’s pretty incredible, in fact, how different one Chianti can taste from the next, considering the strict path the winemaker must follow in order to even christen the bottle as a Chianti (find out more about the specific rules for making a Chianti here). You know you have the ‘real deal’, however, when there is a pink label around the neck of the bottle.
While we didn’t visit the Gabbiano castle during our time in Tuscany, I have come to love this wine for a number of reasons, the primary being the affordable pricetag and the fact that I can find it in almost any wine shop. You will generally see the latest release, the 2010 Chianti, or the 2008 Chianti Classico, or the 2006 Riserva (*Riserva denotes that the BEST grapes from that year were used for this bottle). On a recent weekend night in, we decided to do a blind taste test of all three vintages. How different could they be? We have the same winery, same grapes, the same philosophy. After setting up three glasses, coded so we would have record of which was which while the tasting remained blind, we began smelling and sipping. Right off the bat each gave a very different bouquet and range of flavors. The youngest wine, the 2010, had all the qualities of a child: fruity and bright, lighter-bodied, without much depth. It hasn’t had as much time to develop it’s life’s story. The adolescent version, the 2008, offered a much earthier texture with notes of hay and soil. It lasted longer on the pallet and left a tingle in the back of the throat. Finally, the Reserva gave us an adult version of the previous two, showing the age and depth of life that had developed over the extra years. The oak really spoke out in this bottle and whispers of tobacco and cherries danced along the edge. At the end, my favorite was the Reserva bottle while my husband preferred the 2008. The point of these blind taste-tests is to explore wine in the comfort of our home. I’m not intimidated by a wine snob looking down on me when I try to describe the flavors I’m tasting in my own words. You know what you like and that’s all that matters. And the best part about this particular wine is the price – $8.99 for the 2010, $13.99 for the 2008 and $21.99 for the 2006.
|View from the clock tower in San Gimignano, Tuscany, June/July 2008
For us it’s Chianti – we have an emotional tie to this wine and this region of the world. For you it may be Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, etc. Or perhaps you aren’t even sure which type of wine you prefer. So start exploring! On your own or with a group of close friends, blind tastings are fun and I promise you will take something away from the experience. Remember, there is no wrong or right with wine. It’s what you like. There can’t be a more obvious answer than that.