The first step is reading the label or rather, all three labels: the one on the bottle neck, the one on the front and the last on the back.
– The bottle neck label: it is ornamental and include information such as the year.
– The frontal label: it identifies the wine, indicates the wine and producer’s name, the category and denomination (controlled or controlled and granted origin, the typical geographical indication), the place of origin, year, the quantity (usually 75 cl), alcoholic content, its composition and other additional information, such as whether its Classico, Riserva, Superiore, Amabile, Dolce, Secco. Neither the vine varieties nor their percentages can be indicated on this label, only the district and “Italy” are allowed. A black cock symbol on the label means imbottigliato da (bottled by), followed by the manufacturer or distributor’s name.
– Rear label: it’s smaller than the frontal one, and complements its information with additional curiosities
Apart from the black cock symbol, Chianti Classico also has a seal that represents the association: if it is a young wine, the symbol is red and if it is a riserva, it’s black.
– Conservation: once the wine is bought it is better not to shake it, to prevent its alteration. It’s best to keep the bottle on a horizontal plane in a dry and fresh place, at a temperature between sixteen and eighteen degrees, in order for the completion of the refinement process.
– Opening: the best corkscrew is one that doesn’t cause too much movement and doesn’t need to be pushed down all the way, to avoid cork pieces from falling in the wine.
– Spilling: once the bottle is opened, the wine can be directly poured in the glass, if it is a young Chianti Classico. If it’s an aged riserva, it’s better to let it sit for few hours or to pour it slowly into a decanter.
– Glass: the balloon shaped glass is most appropriate one to use because it exalts the scents of both young and aged glasses.
– Smell: wine must be tasted in a place without particular smells, which can ruin the bouquet.
– Taste: in order to taste wine properly, it’s better for your mouth to be free from other flavours (even brushing your teeth to get rid of other flavours isn’t recommended), It’s best to just have a glass of water before wine tasting.
– Senses: young Chianti Classico is light, ruby red, smooth, and fruit scented. The wine is more full-bodied and suitable for ageing when produced with Sangiovese grapes (for instance, the Chianti Riserva).
– Wood: in the past the wine was stored in chestnut or oak barrels. Now, French oak and barrique is used.
– Complement: it pairs well with red meat, grilled or cooked in a more complex way, depending on its consistency (middle or full-bodied). Riserva are great with game and aged cheeses.