Friday, October 6, 2017

A Glass of Chianti & Dreams of Porchetta #ItalianFWT

This month the Italian Food Wine and Travel bloggers are focusing on Chianti. You can read the invitation from Jeff of Food Wine Click!: here. And, it seems, that we'll continue to focus on the region and the wine next month as well. It'll give us an opportunity to focus on some specific vintners. So, this month, I am going to speak in generalities about the area...and share an experience I had while living in Italy after college that still has me dreaming of it.


Like most other Old World wines, Chianti derives its name from its region of production and not from the varietal used to make the wine though there are some requirements that it be mostly Sangiovese grapes.

A wide range of wine styles comes from the Chianti region. But from basic Chianti to the finest Riservas, elements of the wines remain consistent.  For a Chianti to be a Chianti, it must be produced in the Chianti region - in Tuscany - and be comprised of at least 80% Sangiovese grapes which typically produces a medium-bodied wine with strong fruit tones that are accented by delicate notes of herbs, leather, and spice, depending on the winemaker.

Traditional grape varietals such as Mammolo, Colorino, and Canaiolo were sometimes blended with the Sangiovese to add some complexity to Chianti. Today, many producers now blend in some Merlot for fruit or Cabernet Sauvignon for richness. Whatever the grape composition, you can expect the wine to be rustic and earthy. And the high tannins make it very food-friendly.

And while most people pair this classic Italian wine with Italian food, I've found it goes well with just about any food. I've poured it with pizza and pasta as well as Indian curries. It's always a fun one.

#ItalianFWT Group Answers Your Chianti Questions
Join our Italian Food Wine and Travel group on Saturday Oct. 7 at 10am CDT on Twitter as we discuss our Chianti findings. We’ll all be posting and chatting, join us! Just look for the #ItalianFWT hashtag on Twitter Saturday morning!

See what our Italian Food Wine & Travel Enthusiasts have to offer:

Dreams of Porchetta

First, a note about the photo. This is not a porchetta from Chianti, or even Italy. This is a porchetta from a winemakers' celebration in Carmel, California. It was served by one of my favorite local Italian restaurants - La Balena - whose owners hail from Florence.

There's something magical, something marvelous about a whole roasted pig, isn't there?!

I remember wandering through the streets of Florence on a rainy December afternoon. I could smell something wonderful. And, peeking down a side street, I spotted a small line snaking from a doorway. There was no sign, but I asked what was inside. "Porchetta, Bella," someone answered. So, I stood in line. There was no menu. There were no choices. 

You simply had to tell them how many you wanted. When I reached the front of the line, the man behind the counter barked, "Quanti?" How many? 

Uno, per favore. One, please.

"Vino?" Wine? 

Sì. Yes.

I walked away with a glass of red wine - there was no choice of red or white - in one hand and the most fragrant, and tender pork sliced on a piece of crusty bread in the other. It was burned into my memory as one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. Ever. I still dream about it.


  1. What great memories....we went out for Italian last night, shared 2 bottles of Chianti between 3 of us and today I am nursing a hangover......booooooo

  2. I loved reading about your encounter with Porchetta, bella! Thanks for sharing. Pork and Chianti go hand in hand.

  3. Yep, that was a pretty special experience you had, and the no frills approach- love it! When's the porchetta party?!?

  4. Oh my! Love that you followed your instincts -- and your tummy was rewarded as well as special memory!

  5. Based on a comment made on my post about international grapes used as blenders, I'm happy to learn from you which indigenous grapes were classically added to Sangiovese. Great post- hungry as usual now. The hazard of reading Culinary Cam!

  6. Mmm I too dream of pork often! And what a beautiful memory.