Chianti, Italy stimulates all of the senses: eyes, nose, ears, touch and most famously, taste. It’s no secret that this area is known for foods meant to excite one’s taste buds. However, oftentimes, people simplify Italy’s food culture under a large umbrella of pasta, cheese and wine. However, upon your arrival, you will discover that every region offers something special. Many different flavours derive from the Chianti area and therefore, local towns host food fairs year round. So what does Chianti taste like? Here is a list of Chianti tastes and a few of the area’s food fairs, which celebrate its historically delicious cuisine.
More often than not, bread is eaten during every Italian meal. In Tuscany, particularly Chianti country, the bread is sciocco, meaning “unsalted.” Therefore, it is bland in taste and has a hard, tough crust with a soft, fluffy interior. At dinner, Chianti locals serve bread slices, accompanying the primi, first courses and the secondi, second courses. It also pairs perfectly with typical salty antipasti such as meat cold cuts, cheeses and olives.
Another bread commonly eaten is schiacciata. This bread type is flattened and salted on the outside. You’ll see people eating schiacciata bread as a sandwich with tasty meats and fresh vegetables or plain as an on-the-go snack for busy professionals.
Olive oil is an essential cooking ingredient in Chianti country. It’s used as an ingredient in most cooking and baking recipes or eaten “raw” with bread. Olive oil in Chianti has a wonderfully rich taste which is accredited to the country’s terrain, farmers’ expertise and delicate harvesting by hand. Drizzled over bruschetta or mixed into pasta sauce, olive oil is a staple of the Chianti diet and never disappoints. To taste some of the area’s newest and most precious olive oil, visit Impruneta’s New Bread, Vino and Oil festival, occurring every year in the fall.
Strong, yet tantalizing, truffle is a popular and highly recommended Chianti taste. The white truffle flavour seasons many of Chianti country’s pastas, meats and cheeses. So what is truffle and what does it like? Truffle is a fungus found underground and is beloved by many foodies. It has a rustic flavour and is powerful and distinct, brilliantly transforming simple recipes.
Cinghiale (wild boar)
You’ll find cinghiale dishes on the menu at most traditional Tuscan restaurants. Due to their overpopulation in Chianti country, locals conduct regular wild boar hunts in this region. Most often, the meat is prepared in a thick, savoury red sauce and served alone. Also, it’s made into a meat sauce and poured over tagliatelle, a type of pasta. Every summer, Montespertoli, a small town in Chianti country, hosts the Sagra del Cinghiale, Wild Boar Festival. Here you can try local dishes, many of them including this game.
If there is one type of cheese that is sure to make you smile, it’s pecorino. Pecorino cheese is made from sheep’s milk, and there are four main kinds of pecorino produced in and around central Italy. Pecorino flavours vary based on ageing: older pecorino has a stronger, sharper flavour and a crumbly consistency, while younger pecorino cheeses are soft, smooth and mild in flavour. For a perfect savoury and sweet appetizer during your stay in Chianti, we recommend pairing pecorino with honey.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)
First introduced to the area by English settlers in the early 1800s, bistecca alla fiorentina is now considered a local specialty. While in Florence, you’ll see this T-bone cut displayed in restaurants and macellerie, meat shops, alluring local customers and tourists alike. This large fillet is prepared with precision: traditionally, the cut should come from a calf, be at least three inches thick and grilled over a hot, charcoal fire. The goal is to eat a lightly salted steak with a well-done exterior and a red, juicy interior. Bistecca alla fiorentina is every meat-eater’s dream!
Arguably the most celebrated Chianti taste is the area’s century-old wine. Chianti country’s wine production attracts people from around the world for more reasons than its picture-perfect landscape. Strict laws dictate this area’s wine production to maintain excellent quality. Therefore, Chianti wine is made mostly from Sangiovese grapes causing a translucent red hue. One can taste red fruits and balsamic, just to name a couple flavours. Chianti in Greve hosts one of the most popular wine festivals of the year: Rassegna del Chianti Classico. At this event, local wine artisans showcase the country’s best. For more about Chianti wine and how to differentiate Chianti from Chianti Classico, check out this article.
These are just a few Chianti’s gastronomic treasures. We encourage you to try and explore the area’s tasty cuisine. Buon appetito!