Wine is part and parcel of daily life in Italy. The dinnertime ritual would frankly be incomplete without sipping at wines that have been perfectly paired with the food on the table.
The best way to experience this delicious culture is, of course, to partake in the drinking firsthand: Embark on a Chianti wine tour, visit vineyards and savour classic vintages as you survey the cypresses and rolling hills around you… there’s a reason so many Chianti wine tour-goers fall in love with Italy.
Idyllic as it is, there are still practical considerations for those planning an itinerary and, of course, I would recommend that you simply do away with unnecessary worry by booking with a reputable tour operator. The guides will ensure you get the most from your experience by taking you to a range of producers, and they will show you the most breathtaking views of the Tuscan countryside along the way.
Here’s what to expect when touring the winemaking heart of Italy – and some practical advice for an enjoyable tasting.
Chianti wine tours make for perfect day trips. From Florence, the closest wineries are found in the Chianti or Classico denomination zones.
Heading here from the Tuscan capital will give you ample time to amble along the vineyards and indulge in delicious vintages.
Fun Fact: Three fifths of Italian wines are produced in Tuscany.
Well-Hidden Vineyards and Wineries
Many of the wineries you’ll encounter will look and feel like hidden gems. Don’t expect clear signage (or any real signs at all) revealing that here lies the operation of a highly respected producer. Quite often, the properties are understated and modest which only enhances their intrigue.
Bring detailed destination maps and make sure you are stocked up on mobile data for your GPS if you have made an appointment to stop off at specific wineries. Going on a guided Chianti wine tour will mean you don’t get lost and miss your tastings.
Into the Cellar
The cantina (cellar) is where the vinification process takes place. You can expect to be whisked down on a tour of the cantina during your visit. A qualified sommelier will also usually show you around the ageing cellar and talk you through the process of fine-tuning matured wines.
A Glass… or Three
Tastings naturally involve a wide variety of wines. You will probably be presented with a small amount of different vintages in at least three glasses.
You will be shown how to notice the flavour notes and have plenty of opportunity to ask questions if you are learning. The sommelier will be more than happy to talk about their techniques too. After swirling the drink around your mouth and enjoying the taste, don’t forget that you can spit it out into a spittoir if you would prefer not to swallow the alcohol.
At the end of your experience, you will almost certainly have the chance to buy a bottle of your favourite (so leave plenty of room in your luggage).
Fun Fact: In Tuscany, 90% of the wines produced are red. The clear exception is Vernaccia, a white produced near the medieval town San Gimignano. So, you may get to taste one or two white varieties, but expect reds to dominate the list!
When planning your trip, consider booking with a specialist operator. Local guides and local knowledge are priceless when it comes to getting the most from your Chianti wine tour.
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including the best Chianti wine tours. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro’s company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you’re keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.