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    What Is Sangiovese Wine (Best Varieties, Taste & Characteristics)

    Sangiovese Wine Guide

    Sangiovese wine is popular with all wine drinkers, it has a diverse profile depending on the bottle.

    This includes subtle flowery and strawberry scents in a bottle of Montefalco Rosso, and a dark and high tannic flavour of a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino

    In this article, we'll explore everything there is to know about Sangiovese wine, its taste, food pairings that go well with the wine and how Sangiovese compares to other wines.

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    Sangiovese Red Wine - The Ultimate Guide

    Sangiovese Wine Bottles

    The Sangiovese grape can quickly change its genetic makeup to meet the climate, making it somewhat of a chameleon.

    All around Italy, there are numerous mutations of the type, which produce wines with distinctive tastes.

    You might be surprised to learn that Sangiovese isn’t very common outside Italy.

    Sangiovese has fewer global plantings even than the lesser-known Mourvedre. 

    Fruity aromas of Sangiovese include:

    • Tart cherry
    • Red plum
    • Strawberry
    • Fig

    Other Sangiovese notes comprise roasted pepper, tomato, leather, clay, brick, tobacco, smoke, oregano, thyme, dried roses, and potpourri.

    Besides being high in tannin and acidity, the Sangiovese is an oak wine, typically light oak, ageing in neutral oak barrels.

    This wine is also suitable for ageing 4 to 7 years (normal) and 10 to 18 years for longer term storage and maturation.

    Sangiovese (Brunello di Montalcino)

    Taste of Sangiovese Wines

    The Sangiovese has a savoury flavour.

    Sangiovese is a chameleon-like grape that can take on a variety of flavours, ranging from highly earthy and rustic – as is the case with many Chianti Classico – to round and fruit-forward.

    No matter where it is grown, it always has a cherry flavour with softer tomato overtones.

    The next time you taste a Sangiovese, set aside some time to sit and smell it.

    If the wine is older, you’ll notice that the aromas gradually shift towards dried cherries, figs, and roses.

    Should You Serve Sangiovese Wine Chilled?

    Sangiovese Serving Temperature Visual

    It's best to serve Sangiovese wine at a temperature of 15°C -18°C or 59°F - 65°F.

    It's best to use a wine fridge to maintain the proper serving temperature of your wine (you can shop wine fridges here).

    Sangiovese doesn’t smell much, unlike some more aromatic red wines like Tempranillo, so you don’t need to worry about serving it in a large bowled glass, just use a typical wine glass to pour it.

    Food and Sangiovese Pairings

    Meat, Tomato Dish, Braised Vegetables

    Due to its medium weight and savoury aroma, Sangiovese pairs well with various cuisines:

    • Use the tangy smell of Sangiovese to complement herbs and tomatoes.
    • High-tannin Sangioveses pair superbly with hearty roasted meats, preserved sausages, and strong cheeses.
    • Work with lipids like butter and olive oil when serving Sangiovese wine with vegetarian food so that the richness of the fat helps cut through the tannins in the wine.
    • Reduce the amount of sugar on roasted or braised vegetables to make the wine seem fruitier.

    Wine Regions of Sangiovese

    italian vineyard

    Although the Sangiovese grape was first grown and cultivated in Italy, it covers more than 175,000 acres worldwide today. 

    The top wine-producing regions for Sangiovese include:

    • Italy - Ten per cent of the grapes harvested in the nation are Sangiovese. Although Sangiovese grapes are notoriously indigenous to Tuscany, they are also produced in other parts of Italy, notably Campania in the south and Romagna, where they are known as Sangiovese di Romagna. Umbria borders Tuscany in central Italy.
    • France - The second-largest producer of Sangiovese grapes, known locally as nielluccio, is the French island of Corsica.
    • Argentina - Italian immigrants brought Sangiovese to Argentina in the late 19th century. The majority of the Sangiovese producers and winemakers in Argentina nowadays are found in the Mendoza region.
    • United States - Following the popularity of Super Tuscan wines in the 1980s, Sangiovese experienced a surge in attention in the United States. Napa Valley and Sonoma County in California, as well as Washington state, are places that produce Sangiovese.
    • Australia - Sangiovese is grown in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

    Which Wines Can You Make with Sangiovese Grapes?

    At least 80% of Sangiovese is used in the Chianti red wines, which include Classico Chianti Ruffina, Chianti Senesi, and others.

    The sole ingredient in Brunello di Montalcino is this varietal.

    Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano are two other Tuscan wines made from Sangiovese or Sangiovese-based grapes.

    Additional Sangiovese wines are produced in Corsica and Romagna.

    Although the grape is grown in many other nations, these wines are not as well recognised.

    Sangiovese Wine History

    Tuscany and Roman Era

    Early origin hypotheses for Sangiovese traced the grape back to the Roman era of winemaking.

    Even the idea that the grape was first grown by the Etruscans in Tuscany from untamed Vitis vinifera vines has been floated.

    The grape’s name, which translates to “blood of Jove” alludes to the Roman deity Jupiter.

    Legend has it that the monks from the commune of Santarcangelo di Romagna, now the province of Rimini in the Emilia-Romagna region of east-central Italy, came up with the name.

    Giovanvettorio Soderini wrote about Sangiovese for the first time in his books in 1590 (also known under the pen name of Ciriegiulo).

    The grape is known as “Sangiogheto”.

    And according to Soderini, it produces excellent wine in Tuscany, but if the winemaker is not careful, it could also make vinegar.

    Although no concrete evidence supports the claim that Sangiogheto is Sangiovese, most wine historians agree that this is the first recorded instance of the grape.

    Nevertheless, Sangiovese would not become well known throughout Tuscany until the 18th century, despite being the most extensively cultivated grape in the area, along with Malvasia and Trebbiano.

    Sangiovese Wine Vs Other Wines

    Different Vinyards

    Chianti vs Sangiovese

    Generally speaking, Chianti refers to a particular kind of Italian wine, whereas Sangiovese refers to a specific red grape variety.

    Sangiovese grapes are used in all Chianti wines, which are blended with Cabernet, Merlot, or Syrah to give the wine a silkier texture, more refined finish, and even more fruity aromas than wines made solely from the grape.

    Sangiovese grapes are utilised to produce wines other than Chianti.

    Other wines incorporating Sangiovese grapes include Vin Santo, Super Tuscans, and wines of the same name made from only Sangiovese.

    Related Guide: What Does Chianti Taste Like?

    Super Tuscans vs Sangiovese Wine

    Sangiovese is the main grape used in mixes of super Tuscan wines.

    Super Tuscan wines, however, also incorporate French Bordeaux grapes in addition to or in place of the region’s typical grapes, unlike Chianti, which is only made with Italian grapes.

    Sangiovese vs Nebbiolo

    While Nebbiolo has a highly distinctive nose of dried fruits like figs or prunes and floral notes like roses or violets, Sangiovese has red fruit smells and a frequently bitter cherry or cranberry tone.

    These secondary scents of leather and tar swiftly develop in Nebbiolo.

    Learn more about Nebbiolo here

    Sangiovese vs Pinot Noir

    Sangiovese And Pinot Noir

    It is a terroir-driven varietal, similar to Pinot Noir.

    Nevertheless, despite these variations, Sangiovese is renowned for having a complex aroma character.

    It has a distinct, highly fruity primary taste of dark cherries, strawberries, plums, and other fruity and savoury nuances.

    Learn more about Pinot Noir here.

    Sangiovese vs Cabernet Sauvignon

    Both are regarded as old-world wines since they are matured in oak barrels and have a medium to high tannin level.

    Sangiovese is a more fruit-forward type, whilst Cabernet Sauvignon has fewer fruit-centric aromas, including leather, tobacco, vanilla, and cedar.

    You’ll notice these differences in their varying tasting profiles.

    Learn more about Cabernet Sauvingon here.

    Is Sangiovese Wine Sweet or Dry?

    Sangiovese is a dry, light to medium-bodied red wine that tends to have tighter tannins and higher concentrations of mouth-watering acidity.

    The rich tastes range from rustic to delicious depending on where and how the grapes are handled.

    Expect cherry, plum, and red currant in the fruit department and smoky, earthy herbaceousness.

    How Do You Pronounce “Sangiovese”?

    Sangiovese is an Italian term that is pronounced: “san-jo-VAY-zee.”

    The Latin term Sangiovese, which refers to the ancient Roman deity Jupiter, means “blood of Jove.”

    Related articles:

    How Strong is Sangiovese Wine?

    Although Sangiovese grapes may thrive in most environments, they typically thrive in hot, dry regions and prefer limestone soils.

    The resulting wine has a medium alcohol content, typically between 13 and 14% ABV, and ages well in barrels.

    What Qualities Does the Sangiovese Grape Have?

    Sangiovese grapes can adapt to their surroundings, yet they still share some traits no matter where they are grown. Grapes from Sangiovese have:

      1. Thin skins
      2. A light colour
      3. Fine tannins
      4. Long growing seasons

        While Sangiovese grapes can successfully grow in most places, they tend to grow best in hot, dry climates and like limestone soils.

        The resulting wine ages well in barrels and generally has medium levels of alcohol, typically between 13-14% ABV.

        Before You Go...

        Vinyard Sangiovese

        We hope you enjoyed our article on Sangiovese wine.

        Do you need to know about other popular wine types to add something extra to your next dinner party?

        Read our next article about popular red wines (and why) here...

        Popular Red Wine Types (Full Guide)

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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