Selecting the best Mediterranean red wine is a difficult task especially when we are facing two different regions with a passion and religious loyalty to its product. This is a hot topic. Its rivalry can be comparable to a World Cup final match between these two countries. A Spaniard will defend to death his Rioja as the best red wine while an Italian will do the same thing for the Chianti.
Chianti is a red wine produced in the Tuscany region of Italy. It has an appellation law. This wine is produced with Sangiovese grapes. After 1970 the Chianti name is also given to some red wines makes with 80% of Sangiovese grapes plus 20% of other varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet, Sarah. There are two versions one called just Chianti and the second called Chianti classic which is a high-end version. Both versions are extra dry. They will dry your mouth out. With a berries aroma and high acidity. These wines are the favorite for any Italian food. The price is very accessible from the 5 to 40 USD per bottle. They are easily find in any wine store around the globe. My favorite one is the Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classic Reserve with a penetrated aroma, long finished taste and perfectly ripe, in my humble opinion.
Rioja is a red wine that takes its name from the Spanish region of Rioja where it’s produced. This wine is likely to be the best known Spanish wine. It’s made from a blend of grapes of Tempranillo Considered native to Rioja and the best grape for red wines. There are other indigenous Spaniard grapes providing an opportunity to use them for the Rioja wines such as: Garnacha tinta, Graciano, Mazuelo y Maturana tinta. Every Rioja bottle needs to have a least 85% to 95% concentration of any of these grapes to be called Rioja. There are two ways of making Rioja red wine. The most widely used today involves the removal of the stalks in a destemmer before fermentation with 95% concentration of selected grapes. The second one that uses the whole grapes bunches and fermentation in large tanks or pools. This modality is called Carbonic Maceration or Carbonic Fermentation. It’s faster the different Rioja wines categories depend upon its aging period on barrel. From 1 to 3 years and in the bottles from 6 moth to 6 years. They are known as Rioja, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva per its maturation and aging periods. The Rioja in any variety has an intense dark red cherry color, a penetrator berries aromas, a delightful smooth creamy flavor. They are good with everything, However the Spaniard drink it with strongly flavored food such as Jamon Serrano a Spanish Prosciutto, or aged ham, meats and Chess. The prices are from 5 up to 65 USD per bottle. The quality in any of these bottles is a reward for your palate
Now we have arrived at the difficult part of making our mind and picking the winner. At this point I must apply diplomacy and recognize that both wines are excellent, with ridiculous low prices for its quality and they are very easy to drink and tolerate. However, maybe for cultural reason I select the Riojas anytime over any other red wine. I highly recommend that you to try it. You will be more than willing to repeat it for sure.
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