Chianti, one of the most popular Italian wines in the world, is a stunning, intense, medium-bodied red wine that pairs beautifully with a variety of foods. With stunning and rich flavors of cherry and earth, it's largely produced using Sangiovese grapes in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy.
If you enjoy the taste of a delicious Chianti, but your supermarket or usual liquor store has run out, don't worry. There are some great alternative wines out there for you to enjoy that all share similar notes to Chianti.
What are the different types of Chianti?
Before I jump in to my delicious recommendations, I should mention that there are actually different types of Chianti, in case you prefer one over the other. There are two main types available to buy:
- Regular Chianti which contains more than 70% Sangiovese and less than 10% Malvasia or Trebbiano is a light and refreshing wine that has juicy fruit notes laced throughout. Popular all over the world, it pairs well with a variety of meat and tomato-based dishes.
- Classico Chianti which contains more than 80% Sangiovese and less than 20% Colorino, Canailo Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot is a more acidic and fragrant wine that has spicy notes throughout. Although still popular, this variety of Chianti is best enjoyed on colder evenings beside a roaring fireplace.
Wines similar to Chianti
If you need to satisfy your Chianti cravings but can't find a bottle anywhere, I've got you covered. In this list, I take you through some of my favorite alternatives to Chianti to satisfy your cravings and bring something new to your wine cupboard.
If you love Chianti, then Barbera is a great wine to try. Featuring a unique blend of bold flavors, this rich yet light-bodied red wine features notes of sour cherry and strawberry. With a high acidity to it, it’s perfect for pairing with a variety of Italian foods including Pizza. The acidity of the wine cuts through the flavors, making it the perfect complement to an authentic stone-baked dish.
For the best quality Barbera, look for Vineyards from the town of Asti, in the Italian region of Piedmont as this region has been producing delicious Barbera wines for many centuries.
Brunello di Montalcino
Brunello di Montalcino is one of the best contenders for Chianti as it's made with 100% Sangiovese grapes, Italy's highest DOCG classification. Noted for it's intense tannins and bold fruit flavors, Brunello di Montalcino ages incredibly well.
With opulent fruit aromas of blackberry, blackcurrant and cherry, Brunello is a wine that has a fantastic balance and really highlights what the Sangiovese grape can do. It's easy to see why it's considered one of the best wines on the globe.
Merlot is one of the most well-known wines available, but did you know that a good merlot can also rival a good Chianti? A good Merlot is both rich and medium-bodied, and is typically dark in color, looking almost purple and black.
Featuring fewer tannins than Chianti, Merlot is laced with plenty of juicy cherry and blackberry flavors, although this can be more or less pungent depending on where in the world it has been produced.
Morellino di Scansano
Morellino di Scansano is another worthy option as an alternative to Chianti. This wine is typically ruby red in color and is characterized by its unique and intense blend of flavors such as rip red berries.
With a warm and velvety taste, Morellino di Scansano is incredibly enjoyable to drink and unlike other Sangiovese wines from Tuscany, can be consumed in a relatively short timeframe after brewing.
Shiraz is another amazing option as an alternative to Chianti. It offers a range of intense, bold flavors including spicy, floral, and tangy notes, which have been expertly blended together to create a stunningly ruby-red and fruity wine.
Not every bottle of Shiraz is fruity, with some featuring notes of salted meat and smoky herbs, however Shiraz is one of the most popular wines in the world, so is well-worth a try as an alternative to Chianti.
Tempranillo is another great option if you’re searching for a wine like Chianti. If you’re looking for a medium-bodied, subtle-tasting wine, then Tempranillo is your bottle. These wines are typically dark in color and feature pungent fruity aromas with flavors of black fruits such as blackberry and dried fig. It also contains complex savory flavors too, including dill, tobacco, and notes from oak barrels.
Tempranillo contains high levels of tannins that you can taste and is also higher in alcohol than some other red wine varieties. Although high in alcohol and tannins, it’s not as heavy as some other full-bodied reds such as Malbec.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is on of the most iconic Tuscan red wines that features the popular Sangiovese grape variety (the same grape that is used in Chianti). It features a light and fresh taste that is incredibly smooth and velvety to drink.
Known for its medium body, intense tannins and unique earthy and plum notes, this wine is claret in color and, when left to age, takes on a more vibrant orange hue. Vino Noble is the perfect wine to enjoy with a variety of grilled meat and BBQ dishes.
This relatively new Austrian red wine is an incredible alternative for lovers of Chianti. It’s a vivid, sharp, zesty red wine with strong notes of cherry and raspberry. Like some Chianti’s it can also have undertones of pepper and earth too. This wine is medium bodied with silky tannins that make for a deliciously smooth drinking experience.
Zweigelt is the perfect wine to enjoy with a variety of tomato-based pasta dishes, but it also pairs extremely well with seafood dishes such as Paella too.