Chianti La Pieve and Chianti Fortebraccio Riserva are the right wines for pairing with Chinese food

Wine aging and refinement are the last stages of a long and fascinating journey from the vineyard to the bottle. Making wine, in fact, also means knowing how to wait. There are wines, especially red ones, which take time to reach their full potential.

Wine aging

Wine aging is a slow maturation process, thanks to which the wine reaches its maximum organoleptic qualities. The first stage of maturation, also called “maceration“, usually takes place in large tanks of steel, fiberglass or concrete and during this step the malic acid, which is the most sour organic acid present in the grapes and in the wine, turns into carbon dioxide and lactic acid, which is sweeter. In this way, total acidity is reduced and the wine is softer.

During the second phase, also called “elevation“, the wine is left to rest in wooden barrels, which release substances such as vanilla and tannins and contribute to add rich to the wine’s bouquet. Moreover, the passage of small quantities of air through the pores of the wood allows constant ventilation, which helps the wine to stabilize and makes it ready for going into the bottle. Clearly the use of old barrels does not allow the wine to extract large varieties of aromas and scents. The younger the barrel, the more intense the mark left by the wood will be. Until a few decades ago, large wooden barrels were used for important red wines such as Brunello and Barolo. Later, the use of barriques spread from France. They are barrels, usually made of oak, with a capacity of 225 liters. In fact, a barrique has a life cycle of 3 aging periods, no more.

The elevation time is variable from wine to wine. There are wines more structured such as Brunello and Barolo that require quite long aging periods, and others that should be drunk young as Lambrusco. Then there are wines with a double soul, such as Chianti. The latter is very versatile: it is excellent either young or aged, and shows different characteristics depending on the case.

Wine refinement

After a suitable period of time in wood, the wine can be bottled. The refinement that takes place in the bottle is complementary to the aging in barrel: the glass refines the features of the wine, defining scents and aromas in a clear and harmonious way. The bottle softens the wine with a slow sedimentation work. The period of refinement in the bottle is also variable: a white wine like Grechetto is satisfied with just one year, a Nebbiolo wine is better expressed after four years.

The environment where it takes place plays a fundamental role in the refinement. A constant temperature, low lighting and very limited stress on the bottles are important. The bottles, in particular, must be placed in a horizontal or oblique position. In this way, the wine remains in contact with the stopper, keeping the latter soft and avoiding oxidation. A good refinement is obtained in the cellar, but if the above conditions are respected it is possible to well refine the wine also at home.

White and red wines, in a different way, lend themselves to more or less long glass refinement paths, and give appreciable results depending on the time spent at rest. Rosé wines are not suitable for this process, and so cannot be refined but must always be consumed young.

Color and scents evolve during aging

The color of red wines, initially red-purplish, with aging tends to a more or less intense ruby. During aging, the color turns to garnet. The anthocyanins polymerize with the consequent downfall. The tannins, on the other hand, oxidize and take the brick hue.

For white wines that allow a brief refinement, it is necessary to look for an amber color, warm and intense. The younger ones, on the other hand, are characterized by a straw yellow color.

The hints of a young wine recall fresh fruits and flowers. With maturation, scents of jam, spices and toasted that derive from aging will be accentuated. The flavor, which at the beginning could be quite hard and sour, softens with aging. During the maturation process, the taste becomes rounder and the tannins softer.

Chianti La Pieve and Chianti Fortebraccio Riserva: a perfect pairing for all Chinese palates

The very long Chinese culinary tradition, the vastness of the territory and the many regional styles that are also very different make the Chinese dishes rich of contrasting flavors. This makes pairing wine with Chinese food a very challenging exercise even for the best sommeliers.

In the Chinese cuisine many dishes are characterized by a bold combination of opposite flavors, such as sweet and sour dishes or food flavored with spicy sauces. This opens the door to a pairing with a decidedly versatile red wine particularly suitable for typical Chinese dishes: Chianti, and more specifically Chianti La Pieve and Chianti Fortebraccio Riserva wines.

To taste the best of these Tuscan excellences, the bottle must be opened a few hours before, allowing the wine to oxygenate itself and release all its aromas. The ideal service temperature for Chianti La Pieve and Chianti Fortebraccio Riserva wines is 16/18 °CIt is also very important, while tasting such a special wines and grasping all their nuances, to choose the right glass: to make the most of these precious Tuscan red wines it is necessary to serve them in a tulip-shaped glass, with the mouth slightly shrinking, to enhance their bouquet.

Among the recommended pairings, surely they stand out with meat or stewed dishes, but thanks to their extreme versatility Chianti La Pieve and Chianti Fortebraccio Riserva wines excellently sublimate even the most delicate fragrances of fish dishes, white meats, rice, pasta and vegetables.

Perfect in combination with any meal, Chianti La Pieve and Chianti Fortebraccio Riserva wines go very well with all typical dishes of Chinese cuisine.

In particular Chianti La Pieve, with at least 6 months of refinement in bottle and a lighter organoleptic profile, is suitable to be paired with delicate dishes such as fish, white meats, rice, pasta and vegetables.

Viceversa Chianti Fortebraccio Riserva, aged in French oak barriques for 12 months and then refined in bottle for 6 months, has deeper color, stronger olfactory impact and softer tannins, and so it is suitable to be paired with more full-bodied dishes, up to the tastiest and most spicy ones.

Written by: Diego Vita Sommelier

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