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Sangiovese is Italy’s Wine Hero

Sangiovese, the most famous and arguably most important grape variety in Italy, is responsible for some of the most popular, impressive wines in Italy. Yet because many of the greatest expressions of the grape don’t have its name on the label, it can be challenging to know when you’re drinking it. Let’s take a look at just what makes Sangiovese so special and which bottles it’s actually in.

What is Sangiovese?

Sangiovese is the most broadly planted red grape variety in Italy. It is the main grape in Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and more, and it’s the only grape in Brunello di Montalcino, which is considered to be one of the greatest, most age-worthy red wines in Italy. There are many different clones of the Sangiovese grape variety, but they are all related to one another.

Where does Sangiovese come from?

Sangiovese is believed to come from Italy initially. Even the name has Roman roots: It’s derived from the name Sanguis Jovis, or Blood of Jove (i.e., the god Jupiter, of the Roman religious pantheon). In Italian, that term would later be translated and ultimately contracted to Sangiovese.

What does Sangiovese taste like?

Sangiovese, despite its differences from one region to another, typically boasts notes of mixed cherries and brambly berries, dried Mediterranean herbs, spice, tobacco, leather, and, in places like Montalcino, a hint of flowers, often in the dried-violet family.

What food does Sangiovese pair with?

Because of Sangiovese’s often assertive tannic structure, it pairs beautifully with fatty and protein-rich dishes, like steak. Its pronounced acidity also allows it to pair perfectly with tomato-based dishes. For a big batch of spaghetti and meatballs, Sangiovese is the move.

How is Sangiovese made?

Sangiovese-based wine is produced the same way as any other wine. The grapes are harvested and pressed, the juice is allowed to macerate with the skins to extract color, tannins, and more, and the wine is then either aged in wood barrels, concrete vats, stainless steel tanks, or bottled immediately. The key with Sangiovese is where it is grown, as the terroir of a particular region, appellation, or vineyard has a significant impact on the final wine that results, which is why Brunello di Montalcino is so different from nearby Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The land itself is unique in each location, despite their relative proximity.

What are popular brands of Sangiovese?

Since Sangiovese is grown and turned into wine throughout Italy—and, indeed, around the world, it’s in Italy that it reaches its peak of expressiveness and quality. Many great producers are worth exploring, including Renieri, Ruffino, Villa Antinori, Da Vinci, Gabbiano, Terralsole, and many, many more.

Browse our full selection of Sangiovese online or check out our selection of highly-rated Sangiovese for a great new Sangiovese to try this week!

Want to learn more about Sangiovese?

Visit our Guide to Sangiovese to learn more about Sangiovese.