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Latest update: 26 July 2022

Wine tasting in Tuscany is one of the best things to do during your holiday in Italy. Or, at least, I think so. I can’t get enough of it and try several wine tastings in the Chianti area. And at a wine tasting in Chianti, you will, of course, taste Chianti wines!

Wineries in Chianti

The Chianti region between Siena, Florence, and Arezzo is a beautiful scene for the best wine tastings. It is hilly, has small and cute villages, and only olive trees intersperse the vineyards. There is a Chianti wine route that you can follow, or choose several wineries yourself. I did the latter. I’m not a real wine connoisseur, so I’m just going for the experience, and I hope to learn something about wine here and there. Every winery has its own approach and style. For example, Antinori is super professional, and at A Solatio, I’m welcomed into the home of Raffaello and Donella. A wine tasting in Chianti is never the same.

Tip! I used the Tuscany Roadtrips guide from Lonely Planet for trip inspiration. Also available on Amazon.

About the Chianti wines

What is the same everywhere is the basis of the wine. Chianti wines are made from the Sangiovese grape. In 1872 the one and only Chianti Classico recipe was written in Castello di Brolio. Its author had researched the wine for over 30 years. Now it’s a strict condition, but his recipe prescribes that a Chianti Classico must be made of at least 80% of the Sangiovese grape. The other 20% may be, for example, merlot or cabernet sauvignon. An ordinary Chianti (DOCG) must contain at least 70% Sangiovese grapes, and white grape varieties may also be added. The percentages of Sangiovese for most Chiantis are actually higher in practice.

There are also differences in the aging of the wines. An ordinary Chianti is usually matured for half a year, while the Chianti Classico has to develop for a year in oak barrels. The Superiore, Riserva and Gran Selezione ripen even longer.

Only the wines produced in the Chianti region can be called Chianti Classico. Chiantis outside the area are not allowed to use the name Classico.

A strange wine among the Chianti’s: Vin Santo

The Vin Santo is also produced in Chianti. It is a sweet dessert wine made from grapes that have been dried over winter on straw mats. As a result, it contains a lot of sugars. In this region, you should serve a small glass of Vin Santo with cantuccini cookies (almond cookies). You dip these in the wine first, and only then do you eat them. Winegrowers from other parts of the country shake their heads at this tradition: what nonsense and a waste of wine! Frankly, I think the Vin Santo can only be enjoyed with these cookies. The taste is pretty strong.

Chianti Wine Tour at Antinori – San Casciano in Val di Pesa

A James Bond-esque wine tasting? If Lonely Planet describes it that way, I obviously must go there. I don’t have the faintest idea of what to expect, but when I get there, I get it. The building is ultramodern but in the style of the landscape. The driveway is extremely wide and grand. I definitely can imagine a James Bond chasing scene here.

Tunnels at Antinori winery

The Antinori winery is a family business. The family has been making Chianti wines for over 600 years. They do this on a large scale and very professionally. It is a production company in my eyes. My wine tour starts with a video about the construction of the building and is followed by a tour of the wine cellars. At the end of the tour, I taste three Antinori wines. The guide is very knowledgeable and has a lot of information on offer. However, I only find the experience a bit distant and formal while drinking wine, for me, is synonymous with fun and conviviality. Therefore, I only recommend the wine tour at Antinori if you are also interested in the building; it is very cool! At Antinori, you have to book your visit online.

If you want to taste it at home in the Netherlands: Albert Heijn sells an Antinori wine!

Read more about visiting the Antinori winery in my extensive blog article (with more photos!).

Wine tour at Antinori, pros and cons:

+ Super cool building
+ Professional guide
+ 3 wines to taste
- Formal atmosphere
- No snacks
- Relatively pricey

Website Antinori winery
Google Maps Antinori

Chianti wine tasting at A Solatio – Certaldo

According to TripAdvisor, visiting A Solatio is the best activity to do in Certaldo. I can only endorse that. What a fantastic wine tasting with wonderful people! A Solatio is a small-scale winery run by Raffaello and Donella. As soon as you drive into the driveway, you feel at home. The couple goes above and beyond to make you feel comfortable. They clearly enjoy making wine and taking care of their guests.

Wine tanks, wine barrels, and olive oil tanks at the small-scale winery in Tuscany

A Solatio is very small and very accessible. It’s the exact opposite of Antinori. I drink twice as many wines, and I get so many snacks that I can skip dinner. We finish with the Vin Santo with cantuccini cookies and then roll to our car – utterly irresponsible with the amount of wine we have had.

Raffaello cuts the meat

At A Solatio, there is ample time to ask questions about wines, Italy, and life. You can go to A Solatio on spec, but you risk waiting for your turn. Booking online is a safer bet.

Read more in my extensive blog article about visiting A Solatio. Including extra photos!

Wine tasting at A Solatio, the pros and cons:

+ Authentic
+ Nice chats
+ Lots of snacks
+ 7 wines to taste
- No doubt you'll end up behind the wheel semi-drunk

Website A Solati
Google Maps A Solatio

Chianti wine tasting at Castello di Brolio – Gaiole di Chianti

Okay, I admit it: I missed out on the wine tour at Castello di Brolio. So you must reserve in advance. You can only visit the castle gardens and the tasting room if you don’t. But that too is worth a visit.

The winery Castello di Brolio is one of the oldest wineries in Italy, in the world even. It dates back to the Middle Ages, and in 1141 it came into the hands of the Ricasoli family. Due to destruction, the castle has been regularly rebuilt, and that is why you see architectural styles from all ages. The Ricasoli family has maintained the castle well and laid the foundation for Chianti wines.

Visit Castello di Brolio in Chianti

The one and only recipe for Chianti

At Castello di Brolio, the conditions and regulations for the production of Chianti wines were written. The baron wrote the recipe for Chianti Classico after 30 years of careful research (it doesn’t seem like tedious research to do), not yet knowing that this would become the basis of all Chianti production. That was in 1872, but the family’s wine estate had been used as early as the 12th century.

Castle visit

The castle is beautifully situated on a hill: fantastic views guaranteed. With your entrance ticket, you can walk around the castle to admire the view and the castle. Then, you enter the fortress with the gray-colored stones and a small chapel. You can also visit the family museum for a small entrance fee if you’d like. And be sure to walk along the defensive walls, which you can also walk on at some points.

Wine tastings at Castello di Brolio

At Brolio Castle, you can do various wine tours and wine tastings. From an afternoon program on the e-bike to a sunset tour with dinner. For all wine tours, you have to book online. Only the visit to the castle’s gardens is possible on spec throughout the day. However, it does allow you to taste one glass of your choice in the tasting room at the bottom of the mountain. That costs only 5 euros (for 3 euros extra you can also enter the castle). So that’s a pretty good deal! Castello di Brolio produces Chianti Classico, grappa, merlot, chardonnay, and more.

You can visit Castello di Brolio daily from 10am. The castle is closed almost every day from December to March. Check the website for exact dates and times. If you are going to Brolio Castle by car, you can either park near the tasting room or drive up the hill and use the parking lots there.

Wine tour at Castello di Brolio, the pros and cons:

+ Impressive castle
+ Historical value
+ Many different wine tours
- Not possible without reservation

Website castle Brolio
Google Maps Castello di Brolio

Tip! At Gall & Gall in the Netherlands, you can buy the wines of Castello di Brolio.

Chianti wine tour at Castello di Verrazzano – Greve

An oversized cork is on the path along the main road to indicate that I have arrived at the right place: this road leads to Castello di Verrazzano. The road goes a bit uphill to reveal the castle between the vineyards. Unfortunately, I hardly have time to admire it as I am late for my tour due to many closed-off roads. So leave on time because the Italian signage is inscrutable.

Castello di Verrazzano in Greve

Adventurer’s blood of Verrazzano

I report to the reception at the restaurant Hosteria di Verrazzano, and someone quickly escorts me to my tour. It’s a well-oiled machine: there are many guides, and the tours are offered in several languages. I step into the middle of a story about explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. He discovered parts of the east coast of America and New York’s bay. In New York, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island to Brooklyn. Three stones from the castle are used in the bridge, and three stones from the bridge can be found on the facade of the villa on the grounds of Castello di Verrazzano. Unfortunately, Giovanni’s wanderlust ultimately killed him. The guide says that, according to one of the stories about his death, he was eaten by the inhabitants of an island near the Bahamas when he went ashore.

Fortunately, wine production did not depend on Giovanni. Castello di Verrazzano has been growing Sangiovese grapes for Chianti wine since 1150. First, the Verrazzano’s did it themselves, then the Ridolfi family from Florence took over. This family also founded the football club Fiorentina. Finally, at the end of the fifties, it was time for the Cappellini family to restore the castle that was falling into disrepair and to restore the vineyards. Castello di Verrazzano now produces Chianti and Chianti Classico and Super Tuscans (wines that originated in the 1970s but did not meet the requirements for Chianti wine due to the use of ‘wrong’ grape varieties), grappa, honey, olive oil, and delicious balsamic vinegar.

Traditional Chianti Tour

I visit the dark wine cellars from the 16th century during the tour. I get an explanation about the production process and learn that Leonardo da Vinci is the inventor of the system to allow air to escape from the wine barrels. The Chianti Tradition tour lasts about an hour and is followed by a wine tasting in the restaurant. The view over the vineyards from here is phenomenal. We sit with our tour group at a large high table, and we each get four wines to taste and a huge plate of snacks. It costs €34 per person, but there are also cheaper and more expensive packages. Online reservation is a must!

Wine tour at Castello di Verrazzano, the pros and cons

+ Fantastic view
+ Varied tour
+ Large plate with snacks
+ 4 wines to taste
- No guidance during the tasting

Website Castello di Verrazzano
Google Maps Castello di Verrazzano

More travel inspiration for Italy

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First published: July 2019. The article has been updated since.

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