The most key etiquette rules on how to serve and drink Chianti. Rules to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.

chianti wine

What Chianti etiquette is

Chianti etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and drink Chianti wines. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow Chianti etiquette to appropriately serve it to your guests.

If you are a guest, respect Chianti etiquette rules to properly drink and enjoy it.

What you should know about Chianti

Chianti is a type of red wine. It is produced in the Chianti area of Tuscany, in central Italy. The Chianti region produces many DOC and DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata /Garantita) wines.

Chianti is made mostly from Sangiovese grapes. It is usually light to medium-bodied.

how to drink and serve Chianti wine

Etiquette tips to serve and drink Chianti

1) How to store Chianti

Store Chianti in a cool and dry place. The temperature should be constant. 

Place the bottles in a horizontal position. Keep them away from sources of heat. The bottles should not be exposed to direct light, natural or artificial. 

Do not store Chianti in the fridge or in the freezer. Both are too cold and risk spoiling the wine.

After opening a bottle of Chianti, it is best to drink it within 2 or 3 days. Avoid keeping it for longer.

2) How to prepare Chianti

Most of the Chianti wines in commerce are young, medium-bodied wines. Thus, Chianti usually does not need decanting. 

However, some aged Chianti, such as Riserva, might benefit from it. The contact with the oxygen makes the texture and flavors of the wine more gentle to the palate.

Before serving, pour the full bottle of wine into a decanter. Then, let the wine breathe. The amount of time needed for decanting depends on the wine and on personal tastes. Try keeping Chianti in a decanter for 20 to 30 minutes.

Avoid chilling glasses in the fridge. The condensation waters down the wine and dilutes its taste.

3) How to serve & present Chianti

Serve Chianti slightly chilled. The ideal temperature is around 16°C (60°F). It is sufficient to place the bottle in the fridge between 30 minutes and one hour before serving. However, do not over-chill Chianti. Cooler temperatures risk preventing the wine from releasing its full aroma.

Present Chianti in its bottle. If you poured it in a decanter, it is best to pour it back into the bottle using a small kitchen funnel.

Hold the bottle by its body, never by its neck or cork. Serve Chianti in red wine glasses, which are larger and wider compared to white wine glasses. Fill the glass between ⅓ and ½.

4) When to serve & drink Chianti

Chianti wines are usually light in alcohol. Thus, they can be appropriate for most occasions.

Serve Chianti to accompany a light meal. Such as a light lunch, brunch, or barbecue.

Chianti is perfect for informal social gatherings. Such as an aperitivo, pre-meal drinks, or a party.

5) Food & aromas to pair Chianti with

Chianti pairs well with meat. Such as steak, chicken, or lamb. Light Chianti wines go well with delicate flavors. You can even serve Chianti with some fish recipes.

Chianti goes well with risotto and pasta. It is not common to drink Chianti with pizza.

You can serve Chianti to accompany a cheese board, as it goes well with many cheeses. Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano. Pecorino. Gorgonzola. Fontina. Asiago. Provolone.

6) Etiquette for drinking Chianti

Drink Chianti in red wine chalices. Hold the glass by its stem to avoid warming the wine with your hand.

Drink it in small sips. A glass of Chianti should last between 10 and 20 minutes.

Never drink shots of Chianti.

Never add ice to Chianti. First, ice waters down the wine and its bouquet. Furthermore, ice is usually added to low-quality or cheap beverages. Thus, adding ice to Chianti can be seen as an offense to the quality of the wine, and therefore to your host.

Chianti wine etiquette mistakes

Chianti etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst Chianti etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Getting drunk.
  • 7/10. Drinking shots of Chianti.
  • 5/10. Over-chilling Chianti.
  • 5/10. Adding ice to Chianti.
  • 4/10. Pairing Chianti with too strong flavors.
  • 4/10. Not holding the glass by the stem. 

Additional information for properly serving Chianti

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Chianti contains about 80 calories per 100 ml (3.5 oz). An individual serving is a red wine glass of 150 ml (5 oz). It contains 120 calories.

How to buy the best Chianti

A crucial factor in Chianti etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Choose the best

Many types of wine can be labeled as Chianti. Their quality can vary.

Chianti wines must have a DOCG or DOC mark on their label. DOCG and DOC are the Italian certifications that guarantee the quality and the production methods.

Chianti Classico wine can be made in the historical core of the Chianti region. It has a black rooster mark on the bottle.

Chianti Superiore is often high-quality wine, as its quality requirements are more stringent.

Alternatives to Chianti

As a substitute to Chianti, consider other medium-bodied wines from Tuscany. Brunello di Montalcino. Morellino di Scansano. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Other options include: