Sangiovese is most famous as being an Italian based grape where it is used for the popular Chianti Classico, Montepulciano, Super Tuscan, Brunello di Montalcino, and Montefalco Rosso (to list a few) wines. Sangiovese isn’t exclusive to Italy, and you’ll also find it grown in Argentina, Chile, Australia and America.
Sangiovese is a bit of a chameleon as its profile changes on where it’s grown, to how the winemaker produces the wine. On one end of the spectrum, you could have an earthy and rustic red, as you’ll find with a Chianti Classico. Other Sangiovese driven reds produce fruit-forward, fresh, and fun wines. No matter where it’s grown, you can always expect Sangiovese to have dried cherry flavours with subtle notes of roses. You can also expect a fair amount of tannin that is balanced with a plucky acidity. This balance ensures that Sangiovese is a fantastic pairing with grilled cuts of rich meats, tomato sauce-based dishes like Bolognese Sauce, pizza, hard cheeses and cured sausages like Chorizo.
Pizza & Fruit Forward Sangiovese Pairing
Tomato sauce has a high acidity and requires a wine, like Sangiovese, to be balanced with acidity, or else the wine will taste flat and flavourless. Balanced with the acidity you’ll also find grippy tannin in Sangiovese which soften nicely when paired against the cheese or meat toppings found on the pizza.
If the pizza is topped with cured meats such as sausage, pepperoni, ham, or bacon, even better! The fruit-forward nature of a medium-bodied Sangiovese is exceptionally refreshing against the saltiness and fattiness of cured meat. The smoky and herbal notes of the wine further elevate this pairing in the flavours they add.
Pasta Bolognese & Sangiovese Pairing
Bolognese basically differs from your classic Spaghetti meat sauce in that it has a higher proportion of meat to tomato sauce. Thus, you need a wine with some hefty tannin, but balanced with some spunky acidity. The acidity in the wine is important as it ensures the wine won’t taste flat against the tangy tomato sauce component.
The ripe fruit flavours of the wine blend well with the beef used in the bolognese sauce, and the smoky and spicy component of Sangiovese helps elevate this pairing even higher.
Grilled Ribeye Steak & Traditional Sangiovese Pairing
Ribeye steak is the more flavourful cut of steak due to a high level of fat. Thus it requires a wine full of tannin like a traditional Sangiovese to cut through the fattiness of the cut. As fatty cuts of steak are incredibly flavourful, you need a good level of tannin in order to taste both the wine and steak on the finish. The fat content of the steak also soften the bone-dry tannin found in the wine, which helps the fruit flavours taste more plush.
A traditional Sangiovese has a savoury herbal quality, with notes of chocolate and smoke that complements the grilled flavours of a Ribeye Steak. Meanwhile, the dried cherry flavours and perky acidity help balance the wine and offers a nice contrast to the steak’s robust meatiness.
Black Forest Ham & a Fruit Forward Sangiovese Pairing
Fruit forward Sangiovese tastes like the holiday season with its cherries and clove notes. As we tend to eat Black Forest Ham during the holiday season, you’ll find that Sangiovese hits all the right notes.
Black Forest Ham is also salty, and the fruit-forward yumminess of a medium-bodied Sangiovese, along with its balanced acidity, whisks the saltiness away. We find the saltiness of meat brings out even more of the fruitiness in Sangiovese.
Spam & Sangiovese Pairing
By listing Spam as a pairing, we are making a point about how versatile Sangiovese is due to its cost and balance of tannin and acidity. Sangiovese is not overly expensive, which makes it perfect for budget food like Spam. The wine is also refreshing against the Spam’s high fat and salt content, while the tannin in the wine is tamed by the Spam’s protein.
To keep things even more fun, Spam is known as a food that has a high shelf life of about five years. Thus, if you are stocking your pantry for a disaster situation, you could choose a Sangiovese driven red like a Brunello that can be aged for 15-30 years. That way, you’re always guaranteed to have a wine that goes good with your rations. Granted, Brunello is expensive, but we can think of no better reason than impending apocalyptic doom to crack open a bottle of this bombastic red wine.