Try A Different Wine for a Change

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I just took a week-long trip to the east coast. Not a wine-focused trip. But, nonetheless, I did pick up a couple bottles to enjoy in the evenings. Being a Californian, it's really easy to immediately look on the shelves for a nice California wine.  But, this time I decided to try a different wine for a change.

Being on the east coast, and a bit closer to Europe (well, nearly halfway there!), I decided to pick one bottle of wine from France and one from Italy. While it can seem really tough to pick out French and Italian wines, I came at it from a simple approach. I simply looked for wines any wines that were in my typical price range. 

I started with the French wines.  I spotted several upper-shelf wines that fit the price range. But, then I spotted a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  Knowing that great red blends come from this region, I picked up the bottle.

Then, I turned my attention to the Italian wines.  Again, scanning the upper shelves, I spotted several bottles of Chianti.  And, seeing a 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva (and spotting the Black Rooster), I picked it up. (And, yes, the 'Riserva' truly distinguishes it from the more common Chianti.)

In both cases, I was very pleased with each bottle of wine.  The Châteauneuf-du-Pape (a blend of up to 13 varietals) was rich and flavorful while the Chianti had wonderful bright cherry flavor.

I could have gone with a couple of bottles of go-to wine from California, but I'm really glad I tried something a bit different. And, you should too. It's a fun way to get exposed to some different flavors. And, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised with your choices.


Looking for a Nice Chianti? Look for the Black Rooster!

Chianti is a great wine to enjoy with an Italian meal. Whether it is spaghetti and meatballs, sausages or pizza, a Chianti is a great pairing. And it's not hard to find a good one.

Chianti is a region within Tuscany in central Italy, between Florence and Siena. And it produces the best known of the Italian wines. While the wines have been around since the Middle Ages, the Chianti region was officially established in the 18th century (1716 to be exact). But it wasn't until 1967 that the Chianti Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) was created. Then, in 1984, the region reached Italy's highest level of wines, the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). This is important because DOC wines are the most commonly found wines in Italy, while DOCG wines only cover a handful of Italian wines with the highest of quality.

And in case you didn't know, Chianti is a region, not a grape.  The wines of Chianti are made from the Sangiovese grape. Local laws require Chianti to have at least 70% Sangiovese with the more prestigious Chianti Classico having at least 80% Sangiovese.

When shopping for Chianti, look for the black rooster (gallo nero in Italian) on the neck of the bottle.  The black rooster indicates it's Chianti Classico making it easy to distinguish from the more common Chianti.

Some may also think of Chianti as the wine in the straw basket.  While it was a distinguishing trait of Chianti in the past, most producers are now using the traditional styled wine bottle. So, if you're trying to create an Italian look for your meal, a bottle of Chianti with a straw basket base will certainly do. But if you're looking for a nicer bottle of Chianti, go with the rooster. Cheers!