If Tuscany had to be defined by just one of the multiple wonders it gave to the world, it would be hard to choose. Someone might mention the dazzling rolling hills of Chianti while others might think of Florence and its rich history and, at the same time, it would be hard not to mention the culinary wonders of this region. But what if we told you there’s one element that is intertwined with all the above-mentioned beauties?

Sangiovese red wine is the secret ingredient that is deeply enmeshed with all there is to love about this magical corner of Italy. Make yourself comfortable and pour yourself a glass of Sangiovese wine while you explore everything you need to know about an absolute star of Italian wines.

What is Sangiovese wine?

The Sangiovese grape is the most cultivated red grape in Italy and especially in Tuscany. This wine is not only vastly cultivated, but it’s also very old. Back in the fifteen hundreds, we know that it was produced around Monte Giove (Mount Jupiter) in the Emilia Romagna region.

Even if the origins of its name are unclear, one of the most likely theories refers to this place. When poured, the bright red color reminded the producers of sangue, blood. Since it was produced next to that mountain, they decided to call it “Sangue di Giove”, the blood of Jupiter. Over the years some letters got lost and others were added, giving us the Sangiovese we all know and love today.

What are the characteristics of Sangiovese?

 

As for its characteristics, we already mentioned its ruby red color. On the nose, its aroma tends to transform with aging. When Sangiovese wines are young, in the glass you can smell ripe red fruits such as sour cherry, plum, and blackberry. When red wine Sangiovese is aged, its perfume turns to more spiced notes and overall increased complexity. You can find a scent of orange skins, thyme, tobacco, and even a hint of eucalyptus. Due to the prolonged time spent in wooden caskets, its aroma often has a lovely smell of vanilla and licorice.

What does Sangiovese wine taste like?

 

 

Exploring the Sangiovese tasting notes is probably one of the most important part in order to understand it. So, if you’re curious to know what kind of wine is Sangiovese, here’s what you need to know.

The Sangiovese taste is rich in tannins, meaning that you will feel in your mouth the astringency typical of this wine. With time, however, this roughness gives way to more gentle notes and its structure becomes more round on the palate. Another of the Sangiovese characteristics is the taste of red fruits, such as sour cherry and plum, have a long finish in the mouth. You might as well taste some hints of coffee beans and cocoa nuts depending on how long the wine has aged in the caskets.

sangiovese vineyard

Sangiovese regions

 

 

 

As mentioned above, Sangiovese is vastly cultivated in every region of Italy. Due to the versatility of this grape, wine producers have grown it everywhere and have been producing all kinds of wine with it. Chances are, in fact, that you might have already drunk Sangiovese without even knowing it! Of course, the Tuscan Sangiovese is the most popular. But even within the region, there are important differences. In the city of Montalcino, the wine produced with Sangiovese grapes is called “Brunello”, while in Montalcino, less than 25 miles away, the same wine takes the name “Prugnolo gentile”. But Sangiovese is not only associated with Tuscany. In Umbria, this grape is used in the production of “Montefalco Rosso” while in Emilia Romagna, you can find it in the “Rosso Piceno”. However, the influence of Sangiovese doesn’t stop in Italy.

Sangiovese around the world

 

 

 

During the eighteen hundreds, Italians emigrated to every corner of the globe bringing three things with them: their family, their traditions, and their cuisine. It is no surprise then to discover that Sangiovese started to grow in California around 1850. Even if it’s not the most popular varietal in the region, some wineries in the Sonoma County and in the Napa Valley are worth mentioning. The wine from Del Dotto, for example, is a quintessential Californian Sangiovese. It is fruity to the nose, with notes of strawberries and vanilla. In your mouth, you’ll find red fruits, the acidity of the tannins and a beautiful smoked aftertaste.

But if you are curious to try well-structured Sangiovese from around the world, California is not your only option. In fact, what about some Sangiovese from down under? As for the US, Australia was always a huge emigration place for Italians during the decades. This means that some producers decided to try to cultivate and produce a unique Australian Sangiovese. A good example in this sense is the biodynamic winery “La Castagna” in Beechworth, north of Melbourne. They produce “La Chiave”, with 100% Sangiovese grapes, and “Il Segreto”, which is a blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Syrah.

wine tasting in tuscany

What is Sangiovese wine similar to?

 

 

Knowing what Sangiovese is like, and where it gets produced, may lead you to wonder: “What is it similar to? Does it taste like wines I already like?”. To answer these questions, there’s no better place to start other than comparing Sangiovese to another excellent Tuscan wine renowned worldwide: Chianti.

Chianti vs Sangiovese 

 

 

It often happens that these two wines are confused with each other, probably because they are both rich red wines produced in Tuscany. However, the “Sangiovese Chianti” confusion is very easy to unravel: there’s no difference at all! Chianti is a mix of different kinds of grapes, blended together in various percentages to create a very specific and unique wine. Sangiovese, on the other hand, is a wine that can be produced with only the grape having the same name. Therefore, Chianti is the combination of Sangiovese with other wines such as Canaiolo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In case you don’t really know what Chianti is, or if you wonder what does Chianti taste like, we have the complete guide waiting for you here!

Sangiovese vs Cabernet Sauvignon

 

 

 

These two great red wines share many similarities as well as some differences. Starting from the latter, Sangiovese originates from Italy while Cabernet comes from the French region of Burgundy. It is understandable, however, to mistake them since both are very common in Italy and especially in Tuscany. When in doubts though, always trust your senses. Your nose will immediately recognise an important difference between them: Cabernet has an unmistakable and peculiar smell of green pepper. Furthermore, when tasted next to the Sangiovese, you’ll find more tannins and an higher acidity.

Nebbiolo vs Sangiovese

 

 

These two grapes can be easily defined as the most important for the production of red wines in Italy. In fact, the first is the basis for both Barolo an Barbaresco in the Piemonte region, while Sangiovese is the main component of Chianti in Tuscany. However, although similar, they have different characteristics. Nebbiolo is in fact famous for its important tannin, which declines only after a long aging. Furthermore, on the nose, you’ll find notes of roses, cherries and licorice in the Piemontese wine and a smell of violet, eucalyptus and sour cherry in the Sangiovese. Finally, Nebbiolo ripens later, around mid-October, while the Tuscan grape is ready to be harvested around the last week of September.

Sangiovese vs Pinot Noir

 

 

 

As for the Cabernet, Pinot noir originates in Burgundy as well. Thanks to its versatility however, it has been cultivated all around the world, giving wines that variates a lot among them depending on the soil and the latitude they were produced on. It is very likely then that you will find it growing on the rolling hills of Tuscany next to vineyards cultivated with Sangiovese! The French wine is sensibly darker, showing a ruby red color when poured in the glass. Also in this case, you’ll find more tannins than in the Sangiovese while on the nose the predominant notes are going to be strawberry, vanilla and violet.

The 8 Best Sangiovese wines in 2024

 

 

Ready to try some Sangiovese? As we discussed, Sangiovese is produced in many parts of the world and in different regions of Italy. Therefore, it can be hard to wrap your head around about which one to chose and to drink! Even if the best tip we can give you is to try as many as you can to develop your personal taste, here’s a list of our suggestions for you direct from Italy:

This ruby red coloured Sangiovese it’s a safe bet. Produced in the Chianti classico region , it embodies the classic traits of a Sangiovese: ruby red color, red berries and flowers to the nose, light tannins and acidity on the palate.

The Bocelli Rosso Toscana Sangiovese comes directly from the vineyard owned by the superstar tenor Andrea Bocelli. The wine produced is enriched by hints of eucalyptus, sage and leather, with a cherry taste on the palate and a long flavory aftertaste.

This Sangiovese comes from the Emilia Romagna region. It is a structured ruby red wine, with a well-balanced tannin which is not too strong in the mouth. You can smell notes of wood, herbs and pepper while you’ll find sour cherry, vanilla and chocolate on the palate.

4. Tenuta Sassoregale Sangiovese

This ruby red Sangiovese is dryer than the others. This makes it easier to appreciate, on the nose, the smell of herbs and oak. When tasted, you will find an elegant taste of cherries mixed with a hint of spiciness at the end.

5. Tenuta di Carleone Chianti classico “La Forra”

Remember when we said that Chianti and Sangiovese often get mistaken? Well, this is the perfect wine to try to understand how similar they can be! In this case, Tenuta di Nozzole decided to produce a Chianti from pure Sangiovese grapes. The wine is, overall, quite delicate. Aromas of vanilla, chocolate and red berries can be found on the palate, with hints of red flowers on the nose.

The “Rosso di Montalcino” from Banfi gets takes the name from the little hilltop town where it is produced. On the nose, you’ll find aromas of blackberry, tobacco and coffee. On the palate, you’ll taste its typical acidity balanced by a good structure and a long finish.

Our favorite moscato is undoubtedly from Asti in Piedmont. That said, you can find really good moscato wine online especially at wine.com for Italian versions or try your local Italian wine shop.

Our favorite moscato is undoubtedly from Asti in Piedmont. That said, you can find really good moscato wine online especially at wine.com for Italian versions or try your local Italian wine shop.