Chianti: Beyond the Straw Bottle #ItalianFWT

According to Wikipedia, the straw basket bottle that many people associate with cheap Italian wine, and even more specifically, Chianti, is called a fiasco — or, if you want many of them, fiaschi:

A fiasco (/fɪˈæsk/; Italian pronunciation: [ˈfjasko]) (plural: fiaschi) is a typical Italian style of bottle, usually with a round body and bottom, partially or completely covered with a close-fitting strawbasket.

The basket is typically made of sala, a swampweed, sun-dried and blanched with sulfur. The basket provides protection during transportation and handling, and also a flat base for the container. Thus the glass bottle can have a round bottom, which is much simpler to make by glass blowing.

Fiaschi can be efficiently packed for transport, with the necks of inverted bottles safely tucked into the spaces between the baskets of upright ones.

Fiasco aren’t as common in Chianti as they once were.

The other night, my son wanted Italian food and I wanted Chianti for this blog post so we went to our favorite Italian restaurant which is decorated with Chianti fiasco that have been turned into lights. While we waited for our table, I ordered a glass of wine. At Ferraros, for years, while you waited, you helped yourself to a jelly jar glass of the inexpensive chianti on the table. These days, they don’t offer free wine, and, it turns out, when I asked for Chianti, they offered me Franzia from a box!

So yes my search for Chianti was turning into a fiasco!

For many Italians, and actually for other people as well, Chianti is simply another word for red wine–it’s that iconic.

The area in red is Tuscany.

But Chianti is not just a type of wine made from mostly Sangiovese, it’s a region of Italy within Tuscany.

where Chianti is within Tuscany, Italy

This October and November, the Italian Food, Wine and Travel group that I am part of is taking a deep dive into Chianti– with a sharp focus on the iconic red wine this month. Our host is Jeff from Food Wine Click! who says:

“…only Chianti. No Super Tuscans, Brunello need not apply, no Sangiovese from somewhere other than the Chianti region.”

#ItalianFWT Group Answers Your Chianti Questions

Join our Italian Food Wine and Travel group on Saturday Oct. 7 at 10am CDT (8am Pacific) on Twitter as we discuss our Chianti findings. Just look for the #ItalianFWT hashtag. Or click on the links and see what our Italian Food Wine & Travel Enthusiasts have to offer:

Because it was a busy week for me as I was at the International Food Bloggers Conference earlier in the week and because it was a busy week for Sue, I decided to take the easy way out — by going out to dinner!

But when there was no Chianti to be found at the restaurant, I did a simple Italian meal from the leftover manicotti as well as some mushroom ravioli with alfredo sauce and Italian sausage plus a caesar salad and paired it with a bottle of Ruffino I picked up on sale at the grocery store

to come up with a delicious yet super simple midweek meal with a great bottle of wine…

I had actually bought three bottles of the wine and this was the third and final bottle. What I had learned along the way is that this is a wine best paired with food– it really works well paired with meat sauce and it was great with the manicotti as well as the Italian pork sausage with the mushroom ravioli.

In March 2015, Sue and I tasted through four Ruffino Chianti as part of a Snooth Virtual Tasting and in that blog post I wrote that:

Chianti’s essential ingredient is Sangiovese which thrives in the limestone laden Galestro soils of Tuscany. Limestone is full of marine fossils, and it is these ancient sea creatures that contribute to the complexity of Chianti wines–notes including violet, spice, plum, and cherry.

The earliest documents linking wine making and Chianti in the area date to 1398.

  • In 1877,  two Ruffino cousins founded their winery in the heart of Tuscany to make high quality Sangiovese based wines with aging potential.
  • Since 1877, Ruffino has had only four wine makers. Gabriele Tacconi is the current Ruffino Chief Winemaker.
  • By 1890, the Duke of Aosta asked Ruffino for wine to serve the King of Savoy.
  • In 1927, Ruffino produced one of the world’s first reserve vintages, called Riserva Ducale, or Duke’s Reserve.
  • In 1947, Ruffino introduced Riserva Ducale Oro, making it the “Gold” standard of Chianti.
  • In 2014, the Consorzio Vino Chiant Classico decided to create a new designation, “Gran Selezione” for the top 10% of Chianti Classico. Wines must be 100% winery owned, aged a minimum of 30 months in oak and three months in the bottle, certified by experts, and more.

look for the rooster

Ruffino – Aziano – Chianti Classico – 2014 -$15+

When we tasted this a few years ago, I said that I would definitely buy this if I saw it on sale– and I did. It’s still a great wine for the price with a good balance of fruit and structure offering classic Chianti characteristics of baking spice as well as cherry and plum fruit and forest floor as well.  It’s a wonderful food wine, and as I noted about the 2012, this would be a great restaurant wine by the bottle or the glass. Too bad I didn’t find it at the restaurant I went to!

For November, we plan to write about Chianti from Cecchi (and possibly others) and then in December, we have two really special wines from Tuscany to share with you along with Italian traditions and foods from Tuscany. So stay tuned as we stay focused on this wonderful wine region in Italy and discover wine beyond the straw bottle!

hard working Sue

8 thoughts on “Chianti: Beyond the Straw Bottle #ItalianFWT

  1. Pingback: Rolling the Dice on a 1979 Chianti Rufina #ItalianFWT | foodwineclick

  2. Glad your Chianti fiasco ended successfully Gwen! The #ItalianFWT group had a lot of great, general information about the region and also wine reviews. Look forward to November, but especially the two wine treats you have in store for December.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! I’m glad we’re doing it over two months. It’s a super important region with lots of great wine much of it easily attainable but also some real gems that should be more widely known! In our series we will move from easy and common to a little more higher end and unusual to some very special bottles perfect for the holiday season!


  3. Chianti had also been off my radar for a while. Great to have #ItalianFWT group shine the light on Chianti, such a food friendly wine. I look forward to spending another month on Chianti, learning and tasting my way to more great Chianti knowledge. I look forward to your December post too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How amazing that the winery has only ever had 4 winemakers. And glad that the search finally lead away from Franzia and ultimately to such a lovely wine and meal.


  5. Pingback: Chianti: It’s So Nice, We’re Doing It Twice! (#ItalianFWT) – The Swirling Dervish

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