I got to thinking about wines which would match my mood and the changing weather. I was pondering a medium bodied red wine, something heftier than summer’s light bodied crisp whites , but less intense than, say, a full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon.
My musings brought to mind my old friend Chianti, the fruity but dry red. Medium bodied reds don’t have as much tannin, the ingredient in red wine which causes the slight mouth drying cottony feel. I think that’s why it doesn’t intimidate white wine drinkers. It’s easy drinking and fun.
Chianti is made from a blend of several grapes including Sangiovese, one of the most produced grapes in Italy's Tuscany. I had my first Chianti in one of those family restaurants which served hefty servings of pasta made by a real little Italian grandmother. The food was cheap and the Chianti was the sum total of the wine list. And yes, it's where my buddies and I got the oh so orgininal idea (Not!) of putting candels in the empty straw wrapped Chianti bottles. (And I might add a romantic way to accessorize the cinder block bookshelves which decorated our beginner apartments.)
I still like that Chianti, but along my wine education journey, I discovered Chianti Classico, the other version of this wine, still fruity and easy, but with what wine experts call "structure" On the tongue the taste is a mix of herbs and dried cherries, and more rounded in flavor. Names to look for--Ruffino and Castello.
One more thing. Discovery News just reported the discovery of an 18th century Chianti based recipe apparently concocted by a pharmacy near Sienna,Italy. The ancient recipe describes an elixir of life made of honey, cherries, secret herbs, and the wine. No wonder Italians there lived long lives.
I know it’s a cliche to pair Chianti—even the upscale version-- with spaghetti but so what? I put on a little music to sip by , made the pasta, and splashed some in the meat sauce. Is there a more comforting comfort food?
Drinking Chianti on the last calendar day of summer----a flavorful way to take off the chill of the season.