As a boy I was lucky enough to travel to the Tuscany region of northern Italy, though unlucky enough to have visited at a time when I was too young to really enjoy the fabulous Chianti wines.
Having liberal parents meant I at least got to taste these unique wines, if not to drink enough of them to experience that glowing feeling which is so enjoyable.
To this day I still remember staying in a majestic Italian villa which had peach trees in the garden. I remember the hot summer weather and being stung by a wasp. And I remember eating some of the best food I have ever tasted.
In a provincial restaurant where the matronly owner had a beard and pinched my cheeks affectionately while calling me ‘Il Bambino’, I tried the wild boar cooked in Chianti Classico. It was an unforgettable experience, as unforgettable as the sweeping vistas in that part of the world and the rooster symbol which adorns the bottle of this great red wine. Wine and food are great bedfellows in Tuscany.
Chianti has had a complicated history over the years and the definition of where constituted the Chianti wine producing region was altered in 1932.
How the wine is made has also been changed. Chianti used to be mainly made from Sangiovese grapes. In the 1800s Baron Bettino Ricasoli, who was a major Chianti producer, decided that Chianti should comprise and equally split 30% of Malvasia Bianca and Canaiolo grapes with the rest being made up of Sangiovese.
But by the 1970s the Malvasia Bianca, a Greek white grape, was gradually being phased out again. For a wine to keep the name of Chianti it must retain at least 80% of the Sangiovese grapes.
Why not find out more for yourself? Car hire in Italy
is the best way to take a Chianti Wine Tour of this magical region, though like me all those years ago you may have to restrict yourself to tasting rather than drinking.