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Everyday Food, Volume 23 June 2005

Italy's best-known red is the one to choose for casual summer meals. Why not take a bottle along on your next picnic?

What Is It?
Chianti is made from Sangiovese grapes, alone or blended with other grapes. Those labeled Chianti Classico are generally considered the best. Any Chianti featuring Riserva on the label has been aged for at least two years and is therefore of a higher quality.

How It Tastes
Although generally known for being a light, easy-drinking wine, Chianti is available in a variety of styles. Some taste of berries with hints of spice, others, such as Riservas, tend to have richer, deeper fruit flavors.

What to Serve It With
Chianti is made for classic Italian dishes, such as pizza, pasta, and panini, as well as roasted chicken or fish. Heavier styles (especially Riservas) go well with steak.

What It Costs
You can still find bottles of Chianti for as little as $10, but most of the better-quality wines, including Classicos, typically cost between $12 and $20. Riservas will be slightly more expensive.

Do You Know?
The old-fashioned image of Chianti is that of a large wine bottle ensconced in a straw basket. Today, almost all Chianti is sold in regular bottles. Many Classicos still bear one traditional mark on their bottles: a black rooster.

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