Ménage à tomato? Pairing a storied Chianti Classico from the oldest winery in Italy, Barone Ricasoli, with variations on the red-headed tomato and extra virign olive oil.
5 Things to know about Chianti Wine
- Chianti originated as a wine appellation in the Tuscany region of Italy in 1716 by Grand Duke Cosimo III de’Medici.
- While you can find many Chiantis on the market, look for Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOCG) on the label which denotes Italy's highest wine classification.
- Per regulation, Chianti DOCG must contain at least 70% Sangiovese grapes. The remainder can contain other grapes within the Chianti region.
- Chianti Classico is a subzone with its own DOCG that must contain at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. It also has vineyards at higher elevations in the heart of the Chianti region.
- Chianti Classico DOCG "is considered by many to be the highest-quality offering for Chianti" with flavors that "reflect fruit and terroir rather than oak."
Source: Wine Enthusiast - A Beginner's Guide to Chianti and Chianti Classico.
Disclosure: I received a bottle of Chianti Classico and Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Barone Ricasoli as media samples. All opinions are my own.
What to Know about Ricasoli Chianti
- The Ricasoli family has been producing wine in the Chianti region since 1141.
- It is the oldest winery in Italy and 4th oldest family business in the world.
- The winery is located in a castle in the Chianti Classico region that was originally built as an outpost to defend Florence from the rival city of Siena.
The Ménage à Tomato Challenge
Chianti is often paired with the San Francisco treat known as cioppino, a stew of mixed seafood and tomatoes.
I thought I would try pairing the Ricasoli Chianti with different iterations of tomato and Italian olive oil.
Unlike heavier red wines, Chianti usually has a nice balance between acidity and red fruit that makes it exceedingly food friendly and a fitting companion for that tantric red headed tomato.
The 2015 Ricasoli Chianti Classico did have bright notes behind a cloak of dark plums, red cherries, violet, and a little baking spice and vanilla.
In addition, the Ricasoli Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the real deal. Peppery, smooth, emollient, and definitely not a fake EVOO that sometimes circulates into US markets.
Pairing #1: Tomato Sourdough Bread with EVOO
Well we know bread goes with wine, so that was kind of easy...
This sourdough bread, from Rosalind Bakery uses tomato water instead of plain water in their bread, giving it a subtle orange tinge and hints of pizza.
Did you know that sourdough bread was invented in San Francisco?
It did, but what makes this truly an authentic San Francisco treat is the pricetag. Twelve dollars for a loaf! (Paired with California sunshine, power outages, and smoke inhalation from raging Sonoma County fires).
Pairing Notes: Bread usually acts as a palette cleanser between wines, and this was no different. Swathed in the olive oil, the bread played nicely with the acid and dry tannins in the Chianti.
Pairing #2: Fresh Tomatoes with EVOO
Like a parent watching their child in a school play, I was really worried about this performance.
I thought I was going to have to bring in goat cheese in a supporting role, but this Chianti proved me wrong.
The fresh acid in the tomatoes heightened the acid in the wine, making it taste more like summertime with lemonade stands.
Pairing #3: Cod "Fried" in EVOO with Vietnamese Tomato Sauce
Red wine is not supposed to pair with white fish, is it?
This Vietnamese "Fried" Fish with Tomato sauce somewhat mirrors cioppino with its profuse use of tomatoes and fresh seafood.
Luckily, the Chianti did not clash with the fish. In fact, the cooked tomato sauce and white fish accentuated the deep red fruit in the wine.
Top 3 Takeaways for Pairing Chianti
- Chianti pairs well with tomatoes, fresh or cooked.
- When in doubt, pair Chianti with a dish that has extra virgin olive oil.
- Look for Chanti Classico DOCG on labels for the highest quality expression of Sangiovese grapes from Tuscany.
Learn more about Tuscan wine
- A Taste of Tuscany's Gran Selezione by Vino Travels
- A Taste of Tuscany Without Leaving Home by My Full Wine Glass
- Arugula and Shrimp Pizza with an Olive Oil Drizzle and a Ricasoli Chianti Classico by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Can’t Serve Chianti Without Olive Oil by L’Occasion
- Castello di Brolio Olio e Vino: Schiacciata all'Uva + 2015 Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Chianti Classico Reaches New Heights: Reflections on the 2019 Anteprima from Avvinare
- Exploring Castello di Brolio & On location Pairings from the Home of Chianti Classico from Somm’s Table
- Garlic Broccoli Pasta with Italian Olive Oil from Cooking Chat
- Gran Selezione: Pinnacle of the Chianti Classico Ladder? from FoodWineClick!
- Guazzetto Paired with Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Castello di Brolio from Enofylz Wine Blog
- New Discoveries On The Rich Tuscan Wine Map from Grapevine Adventures
- Shrimp Marinara Wine Pairing...from Maremma Toscano by Steven’s Wine and Food Blog
- Tasting Tuscany: Tuna, Beans, EVOO, Chianti, Vermentino by Wine Predator
- Traditional Italian Soup Paired with Chianti Classico from Always Ravenous
- Tuscan Temptations: Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico 2016 with Grilled Chicken Sausage Ragu over Polenta Muffin from Grape Experiences
More Extra Virgin Olive Oil Posts
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Cooking? (can or can’t you?)
Hamachi Crudo (the sashimi alternative)
Easy Baked Ling Cod with 3-Ingredient Miso Glaze
Do you love Chianti wine? Spread the ♥, and please share!
Jennifer Martin says
Love your experimentation with the fresh tomatoes and fish dish. Its always worth thinking outside the box and trying new things.
MARTIN D REDMOND says
I would love to try that tomato sour dough Deanna, but I hope for $12/loaf it was magical lol. Thanks for exploring Chianti with tomatoes three ways. Funny, I was just recommending Chianti for someone looking for Thanksgiving recs the other day. What do you think?
Oh yes. So food friendly and especially if your Thanksgiving dinner has olive oil in any of this dishes. 🙂
Love your sense of humor and spot-on metaphors. Tomatoes, olive oil and Chianti are clearly a can’t-miss combo!
Wendy Klik says
I wish I had been there for dinner with you. Everything sounds so delicious.
Thank you Wendy!
$12 for a loaf of bread....I thought my farmer's market organic loaf at $9 was expensive. Oh California! But I do find the tomato water very interesting and I bet it was a flavorful addition.
Lol, I know. Oh California. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂
Nicole Ruiz Hudson says
OMG -- your description of what makes that bread truly San Francisco cracked me up! Enjoyed all the pairing notes as well.
Wonderful, lol! Thanks for so much for stopping by!
Camilla M. Mann says
What great ways to feature tomatoes...and Chianti! Thanks for the inspiration.
Thanks Camilla! 🙂