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    Is Chianti Sweet or Dry? (Sweetness Chart)

    Is Chianti Sweet

    Made using the Sangiovese grape, Chianti is made in the romantic Italian region of Tuscany.

    Vineyards don’t get more picturesque than those in Tuscany and Chianti is beloved all over the globe for tasting just as beautiful as its grapes look whilst growing. 

    But does Chianti’s idealised popularity make it a dry or a sweet wine?

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    Is Chianti a Dry or Sweet Wine?

    Chianti Sweetness Profile

    Chianti traditionally makes bone-dry red wines,its best known for the Sangiovese grape that makes up the majority of this blend.

    However, as with other typically dry wines like Merlot, just because Chianti is commonly a bone-dry wine, doesn't mean it’s always a dry wine.

    There are some rare examples of sweeter Chianti, emphasis on the rare here, that you may come across on a special occasion.

    Wine Type Sweetness Level
    Chianti Dry to Semi-Dry
    Merlot Dry
    Cabernet Sauvignon Dry
    Pinot Noir Dry
    Zinfandel Off-Dry to Sweet
    Riesling Off-Dry to Sweet
    Moscato Sweet
    Port Very Sweet
    Sherry Very Sweet
    Ice Wine Very Sweet

    So why does Chianti make dry wines when other grapes are capable of making sweet wines?

    Why Is Chianti Sweet?  


    When it comes to traditional Chianti, once the yeast has fermented all the sugar in the grapes and converted it into alcohol there is no residual sugar left, only complex fruit flavours and lots of structured tannins.

    So in order to make a sweet Chianti, some dessert winemaking practices need to be applied, in order to ensure there is residual sugar left after the grapes have been fermented.

    As a rule then, a Chianti will only be sweet because a winemaker has actively decided to make a sweet wine, which is why sweet Chianti is such a rarity.

    Sweetness aside, what does Chianti taste like?

    What Does Chianti Taste Like?

    Chianti Tasting Notes

    Chianti makes really rich and smooth red wines with lots of structured complexity that have become almost integral to Italian cuisine. 

    Tart and spicy, typical Chianti wines have tasting notes of rich balsamic vinegar, sour red cherries and soft hints of oregano and tobacco. 

    So flavours aside, what are the typical characteristics associated with Chianti?

    Chianti Characteristics

    Now we’ve got a grasp on sweetness, what other characteristics can you expect to find in a glass of Chianti?

    • Alcohol Levels - Alcohol levels in Chaint wines tend to fall between 11-12% ABV.
    • Sweetness Level - Typically Chianti makes bone-dry red wines, although there are some (very rare!) sweeter wine styles of Chianti to be found.
    • Acidity Level - Chianto has a medium acidity, which makes it great for drinking with food and even better for cellaring long-term.
    • Tannin Level - Chianti has a medium to high level of tannins, giving it lots of structure and a drier mouthfeel.
    • Body - Chianto has lots of complex, Italian flavours, so luckily for us the wines also tend to have a medium-full body to compliment those tasting notes.

    So what are the sweet types of Chianti and where can you find them?

    Related: Should Chianti Be Chilled?

    Sweet Types of Chianti

    Sweet types of Chianti wines are a rarity.

    Most Chianti wines make exceptionally dry wines so in order to find a sweet version of the style you may have to ask your local specialist wine retailer.

    But how does Chianti compare to other wines? Is Chianti sweeter than Pinot Noir, for example?

    Is Chianti Sweeter Than Pinot Noir?

    Chianti Vs Pinot Noir

    As a rule both Chianti and Pinot Noir make very dry, but very delicious, red wines.

    Both wines, when made in this style, are about the same level of dryness. Although some fruitier tasting versions of the wines may give the impression of sweetness.

    Pinot Noir may taste lighter and more fruit forward, but it really will depend on the style and choices of the winemaker.

    Related: Is Pinot Noir Sweet?

    So what about Merlot?

    Is Merlot sweeter than Chianti?

    Is Chianti Sweeter Than Merlot?

    Chianti Vs Merlot

    Once again, both Chianti and Merlot commonly make very dry red wines, although you will have more chance of encountering  a sweet style of merlot than you will a sweet style of Chianti.

    So if in any doubt at all, ask the person selling you the wine.

    Or even better, grab a bottle of each, invite all your friends round and try out the sweetness comparisons for yourself!

    Related: Is Merlot Sweet?

    Before You Go... 

    Wine Barrels

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    philip thompson Author: Philip Thompson
    Philip is the General Manager at Expert Wine Storage, and is very knowledgable about all things relating to wine and wine storage, including wine fridges. He is regularly featured in media outlets sharing his knowledge on wine. Connect on Linkedin