Brunello vs Chianti: Chart


When it comes to red wines, many can appear similar, like Brunello vs Chianti, unless you know what you’re looking for.

Brunello is 100% Sangiovese, has a fuller body, along with robust notes of cherry, leather, and spice. Chianti can be a blend, is lighter bodied with vibrant acidity, and has bright red fruit flavors. Chianti is widely available at entry-level prices; Brunello is a premium wine.

Here’s what you need to know about Brunello vs Chianti.

Brunello Basics: A Refined Italian Classic

Brunello, originating from Tuscany, Italy, has gained international popularity due to its complex and age-worthy nature. Today closely connected to the renowned region of Montalcino, Brunello presents a rich flavor profile with bold fruit notes and subtle hints of leather and tobacco. It is renowned for its full-bodied and robust character, offering a sophisticated and cellar-worthy experience.

Flavors Found in Brunello di Montalcino Wine

  • Cranberry
  • Strawberry
  • Espresso
  • Sundried tomato
  • Cherry
  • Tobacco leaf
  • Leather
  • Dried fig
  • Violet
  • Cocoa
  • Almond
  • Cedar
  • Vanilla
  • Blackberry
  • Orange peel
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Black tea
  • Gamey notes
  • Graphite

Being a symbol of Italian winemaking excellence, Brunello wines are crafted with meticulous care, for an extended period to enhance their structure and flavor.

Fun Wine Fact: Brunello is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, (often a clone called Sangiovese Grosso), showcasing the varietal’s versatility and expression in the terroir.

Chianti Basics: A Versatile Tuscan Gem

Chianti, with its roots in the picturesque region of Tuscany, has a longstanding tradition of winemaking. It is celebrated for its approachable and food-friendly nature. Chianti typically presents a medium-bodied profile with a lively acidity, making it an ideal companion for various dishes. (Here’s a deep-dive into Chianti wines.)

Flavors Found in Chianti Wine

  • Cherry
  • Plum
  • Strawberry
  • Tomato
  • Red currant
  • Balsamic
  • Violet
  • Rose
  • Anise
  • Blackberry
  • Leather
  • Tobacco
  • Earthy notes
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Cedar
  • Licorice
  • Black olive
  • Peppercorn

Fun Wine Fact: Chianti can be a blend of grapes (almost all inexpensive Chiantis are blends), but the main grape is still Sangiovese.

As one of Italy’s iconic wine styles, Chianti is produced from a blend of grape varieties, including Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and others. This blend contributes to its balanced character, offering a mix of red berry flavors, floral notes, and a touch of spice. Chianti wines are known for their versatility, suitable for both casual sipping and pairing with a wide range of cuisines.

Fun Wine Fact: The iconic straw-covered Chianti bottle, known as a fiasco, is a traditional and recognizable packaging style.

Wine Comparison: Brunello vs. Chianti

Here’s a quick side-by-side that covers the most common styles of Brunello and Chianti.

Characteristics Brunello Chianti
Hue Deep ruby, to garnet Ruby red
Color Red Red
Aromas Cranberry, cherry, plum, leather, tobacco Cherry, violet, earthy
Sweetness Dry Dry
Acid Medium to high Medium to high
Alcohol (%) 13.5-15% 12-14%
Body Full Medium to full
Intensity Pronounced Medium to pronounced
Key Growing Regions Tuscany (Chianti), Italy Tuscany (Montalcino), Italy
Classic Pairings Grilled meats, game, aged cheeses Grilled meats, pasta, pizza
Price Range $40-$200+ $10-$50

Brunello Wine Profile

  • Body: Full-bodied with a rich and robust character.
  • Flavor: Bold dark fruit notes, subtle hints of leather, and tobacco.
  • Aging: Often aged for an extended period, enhancing structure and complexity.

Chianti Wine Profile

  • Body: Medium-bodied with lively acidity.
  • Flavor: Red berry flavors, floral notes, and a touch of spice.
  • Versatility: Ideal for various dishes, showcasing a balanced character.

Helpful Tip: Check out this side-by-side comparison of Sangiovese vs Chianti wine.

Are Brunello and Chianti Similar?

Brunello and Chianti share certain characteristics. Both wines use Sangiovese grapes, making them excellent pairing partners with Italian cuisine.

What Is the Difference Between Brunello and Chianti?

Brunello tends to be full-bodied with bold fruit and complex aging potential, while Chianti offers a medium-bodied profile with brighter acidity. Brunello’s extended aging softens the wine’s tannins.

Brunello vs. Chianti: Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

brunello vs chianti - pizza

Brunello’s bold and robust character makes it an excellent companion for hearty dishes, grilled meats, and aged cheeses. Chianti, with its lively acidity, pairs exceptionally well with classic Italian fare, pasta dishes, and grilled vegetables.

Personal Note: I love pairing Chianti with classic Margherita pizza.

Both Brunello and Chianti are best enjoyed slightly below room temperature. Decant Brunello before serving, or at least let it sit in your glass to open up. Most Chiantis you’ll be able to enjoy immediately after opening.

Why Is Brunello More Expensive than Chianti?

Brunello is more expensive than Chianti for several reasons, including: premium vineyard sites, limited production, and longer aging.

Brunello vs Chianti Wine Price: Quick Chart

Brunello vs Chianti Wine Prices

Brunello vs Chianti Wine Prices

Wine Type Entry-level Mid-tier Premium
Chianti $15-$20 $20-$40 $40+
Brunello $50-$75 $75-$150 $150+

Is Brunello Better than Chianti?

Qualitatively, most Brunellos will be better than most Chianti wines. You can find exceptional Chianti DOCG wines. Check out this post that will show you how to shop for premium Chianti (and even has a print-and-take shopping list of regions you want to look for).

Helpful Tip: Here’s how to use the Italian wine classification system.

Final Thoughts – Chianti or Brunello?

Both Brunello and Chianti present delightful red wine options with their own unique characteristics. I’m a big fan of side-by-side tastings to tease out the different wine nuances.

A great way to get started with these two wines is to do a side-by-side comparison. Grab 2 bottles of similarly priced Brunello and Chianti.

Invite over a few friends and enjoy an evening of swirling and sipping. Brunello showcases a refined and cellar-worthy nature at a price point that reflects its aging potential. If you’re looking for a versatile and food-friendly wine, then Chianti will be a delightful choice that complements various dishes.

Thirsty for More?

I’m a big believer in doing side-by-side tastings to boost your wine knowledge. Here’s how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

Check out this post on Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Merlot, another popular red wine.

Here’s the difference between Italian DOC and DOCG wines. Go check it out!

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