Pronounced: kee-AHN-tee

History: Chianti is Italy's most famous red wine. The region of Chianti is roughly six times the size of Napa. Its eponymous wine is one of the oldest in the world, tracing its origins back at least 700 years. The quality of the wine plummeted in the 20th century due to poor vineyard management and sloppy winemaking. Until the late 1970s, the image of Chianti in the United States was that of a cheap wine in a fiasco, the squat straw covered bottle ubiquitous on checkered tablecloths in low-budget trattorias. But over the past two decades Chianti has been on the upswing. Viticultural practices have been modernized and winemaking facilities updated. And the fiasco has been replaced by a Bordeaux-shaped bottle.

Description: Sangiovese is the workhorse grape of Chianti and Italy's leading variety. It is medium bodied with a firm, dry texture and a tannic backbone that allows for moderate aging, a dozen years or more with full-bodied styles, though five to eight years is usually the optimum. Sangiovese has a floral bouquet, which many describe as that of violets

Taste/Aromas: balanced, dry, sapid and lightly tannic, fining in time to a velvety softness.

Food: Tomatoes, braised rabbit, Italian