Chianti vs Brunello: What Are The Differences Between Them?

When it comes to “Chianti vs Brunello,” it’s crucial to remember that both wines are highly rated and have their own distinct qualities. Chianti is a Tuscany red wine recognized for its medium body, strong acidity, and aromas of cherry and earthy undertones.

On the other hand, Brunello di Montalcino is a red wine produced in the Montalcino district of Tuscany from Sangiovese grapes. Despite using the same grape variety, the two wines have different points. Read on to know more about the similarities and differences between Chianti and Brunello.

We will give you some further information to distinguish Chianti and Brunello in full view:

Characteristic Chianti


Body  Medium-bodied Full-bodied
Calories ~126 calories per glass ~126 calories per glass
Sweetness Dry Dry
Tannins High High
Acidity High High
ABV ≧12% 12.5%-16%
Flavor Cherry, plum, raspberry, licorice, tomato stem, balsamic vinegar, tobacco, and leather. Cherry, plum, wild berries, fig, licorice, coffee, chocolate, and leather.

Oaky, vanilla tastes when matured.

1. Similarities of Brunello and Chianti

Similarities of Brunello and Chianti
Brunello vs Chianti: What is the similarities? (Source: internet)

Brunello and Chianti share a lot of common points such as origin, grape, taste, aromas, and so on.

Brunello and Chianti are both red wines that originate from Italy. They are still produced today. Both wines are created in the Tuscany area. 

Depending on the wine, these wines can be either sweet or dry.

Sangiovese is the primary grape variety used to make Chianti and Brunello wines; Chianti Classico, like Brunello, is made entirely of this variety. 

In order to cut expenses, most wineries now bottle their products in the more modern, round bottles known as fiascos. However, Chianti and Brunello are still available in ordinary bottles.

They share various tastes and aromas, including traditional Sangiovese notes of licorice, balsamic vinegar, cherry, plum, and tomato stem.

2. Chianti vs Brunello: What Are The Differences Between Them?

The distinction between Chianti and Brunello can be subtle, despite sharing similar grape varieties. Aged Chianti is called Riserva, and Brunello undergoes a longer aging process (three years), resulting in a wine with more complexity and nuances of vanilla, spice, and cream. Additionally, Brunello is often made with a slightly different Sangiovese clone.

Older bottles of Chianti may contain up to 25% of other wines, which can significantly alter the flavor profile. However, modern Chianti bottles must contain at least 80% Sangiovese. Historically, the precise composition of Chianti was not widely known, with the wine simply identified as red and potentially comprising only 70% Sangiovese, along with Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes.

The grapes used for Brunello are cultivated in southern Tuscany, where the slightly warmer climate and limestone-rich soil contribute to its distinctive flavor profile.

We will show you some detail differences right below:

2.1. ABV

  • Brunello: Brunello is a particularly robust wine with an ABV range of 12.5% to 16%. Although Brunello typically contains higher alcohol than Chianti, there are occasions when the difference is not really noticeable.
  • Chianti: Chianti often has less alcohol than Brunello, yet no one would characterize Chianti as a wine that contains little alcohol. It must have 12% ABV or above to be legal in Italy. 

2.2. Price

Chianti: Chianti has a starting price of roughly $10 per bottle, which is comparable to the bulk of the various wine on the market. 

Brunello: The starting price for Brunello is roughly $50. Therefore, an entire bottle of Brunello can easily cost over $100.

Editor’s Note: The first Brunello wine produced today was matured for more than ten years. As a result, the families and winemakers who made the wine were able to sell it for a significant premium above the Chiantis, Barolos, and other regional wines, which led to the emergence of the Brunello di Montalcino wine industry as a highly competitive industry.

2.4. Flavor

  • Brunello: Brunello is frequently matured, giving it the beloved oaky, vanilla taste. The aromas of leather, dried flowers, nuts, chocolate, and spices that come with age are more likely to be found in Brunello.
  • Chianti: Chianti may also be aged, although based on the length of time it was matured, it typically goes by a different label. Red wine from Chianti has a tart, luscious crimson color with tastes of cherry and earth.

2.5. Body

Chianti: Red wine like Chianti is renowned for having a medium body and deliciously earthy flavor. Due to the significant amount of tannins in it, it has a very high acidity level, which brings out the underneath sweetness of the very rich, red fruit tones. 

Brunello: Brunello di Montalcino is a full-bodied wine. Wild berries, licorice and anise, star anise, and leather are some of the flavor notes. Long-term age permits the tough tannins in Brunello wines to emerge, and this wine’s acidity makes it a good meal partner.

2.6. Location

Chianti: This red wine is made primarily from Sangiovese grapes, but can also include small amounts of other varietals such as Canaiolo and Colorino. Historically, Chianti was known for its straw-covered bottles called “fiascos” and was often associated with cheap, mass-produced wines. However, in recent years, the quality of Chianti has greatly improved due to stricter regulations and modern winemaking techniques.

Brunello: On the other hand, Brunello is made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes grown in the Montalcino region of Tuscany. This wine is known for its rich, full-bodied flavors and complex aromas. The grapes used to make Brunello are harvested at a later stage of ripeness compared to those used for Chianti, resulting in a higher concentration of flavors and tannins.

2.7. Production Methods

Chianti is typically aged for a shorter period of time compared to Brunello. While Chianti can be released after just a few months of aging, Brunello must be aged for at least 5 years (with a minimum of 2 years in oak barrels) before it can be sold.

3. Chianti vs. Brunello: Which one is better?

To put it simply, Chianti can be compared to a nice watch, while Brunello is more like a luxurious Swiss timepiece. The use of premium materials and production methods in making Brunello contributes to its higher quality.

However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t guarantee that all Brunello wines are superior (I’ve had my fair share of average Brunello wines). Personally, I have a preference for Brunello over Chianti.

4. How To Distinguish Between Brunello & Chianti

The easiest way to tell Brunello vs Chianti apart is the maturing time. (Source: Internet)

According to the regulations, Brunello di Montalcino needs to age for at least 2 years in wood and a period of four months in the container before being made available. 

This provides a quick way to distinguish between the two wines since Brunello is more probable to show features such as leather, nut, chocolate, spice, dried fruits, and dried florals that are imparted by aging. 

You’ll notice this especially if you’re mixing a fresh Chianti with an older Brunello.  Additionally, young Chianti is easier to find and typically has a weaker structure. 

The Brunello should have a more potent, tongue-coating mouthfeel. Despite these distinctions, both wines may age for an entire decade or more if they are prepared correctly. 

5. What is Brunello?

+ Origin: 

An iconic product of Italian enology, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is well-known and adored all over the globe. The Sangiovese grape, which is also known as Brunello in this region, is used to make this wine.

+ Tasting notes: 

Brunello di Montalcino loses its fresh fruit taste as it ages and instead develops sweeter notes of sun-baked leather, caramelized cherries, hazelnuts, and dried figs. With the acidity being luscious, the tannins become chocolate-like.

+ ABV: 

Brunello has a minimum of 12.5% by volume alcohol concentration. When Brunello is young, it is complex and tannin-heavy; as it ages, the tannins lessen and the wine softens.

+ Food pairings: 

Roast veal and pig, as well as braised and stewed game dishes like boar, guinea fowl, or duck, go very well with Brunello di Montalcino. It is important to highlight strongly seasoned first dishes like Tortelli alla Mugellana when considering the best times to drink Brunello di Montalcino.

However, Brunello di Montalcino pairs well with aged, rich cheeses, especially if it is more mature. On the other hand, historical vintages are wonderful on their own as a wine for meditation or when matched with recipes that have a lot of complexity, scent, and structure and are created with top-quality ingredients.

Particularly in younger wines, Brunello di Montalcino has a highly assertive tannic texture that, if uncontrolled, might potentially produce astringent sensations. 

6. What is Chianti?

+ Origin: 

The response to “Where does Chianti come from?” is located in the scenic Tuscany area of central Italy. Tuscany is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, extensive history, and delectable food. It is also the origin of Chianti wine.

Since it was first made as a white wine in the 13th century, Chianti has a long and illustrious history. The wine didn’t start to receive broad acclaim until the 18th century when its distinctive crimson mix was created.

+ Style: 

The color of this Chianti is rich, dark crimson, and it smells strongly of blackberries. The wine is medium-bodied, with rich fruit on the palate, and has noticeable tannins. (Higher temperatures draw out more red color and tannin.)

+ Tasting notes:

Typically, wonderful black cherries, balsamic vinegar, dry herbs, tobacco, and smoke are mentioned in Chianti tasting comments. 

The Sangiovese grape’s wild raspberry and cherry aromas can also be enhanced by oak aging, giving Chianti a wonderful, well-balanced structure.

Chianti can occasionally be softened by Tuscan winemakers using other red wine grape varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

+ ABV:

Chianti Classico must have an average alcohol level of no less than 12% and a minimum of 7 months maturing in wood, whilst Chianti Classico branded riserva must be matured at the winery for at least 24 months and have a required alcohol level of at minimum 12.5%.

+ Food pairings:

The meatiest Italian meals with tomato-based sauces, such as meatballs spaghetti, bruschetta, chicken parmesan, pizza, baked ziti, and lasagna, go best with Chianti Classico as Chianti Classico is bursting with the delicious, fresh flavors of strawberries, plums, and red and black cherries.

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7. Tips to enjoy a glass of Brunello and Chianti

To fully enjoy a glass of Brunello or Chianti, you must follow the following advice:


  • Temperature: Brunello di Montalcino should be served between 68 and 71.5 degrees Fahrenheit rather than exceeding 64 degrees. A Brunello can fully reveal its aromas at these temperatures.
  • Glass: A clear crystal wine glass with a circular center and an aperture that curves slightly inwards to focus the perfume toward the nose is required to appreciate a wonderful vintage of Brunello. Large tulip forms are preferable to balloon-shaped glasses.
  • Quantity: A high-quality wine has to be drunk carefully. To truly understand its nature, a little is sufficient. For around 8 to 10 people, one bottle should be plenty.



  • Chianti Superiore should be served at a temperature of 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 12 to 15 degrees Celsius, to bring out the luscious fruit flavors and silky tannins.
  • Chianti Reserva is a wine that has aged for a minimum of two years and is often the best produced by any one producer. It should be served at a temperature of 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 12 to 15 degrees Celsius.
  • Chianti Gran Selezione, which is only produced in places that also produce Chianti Classico, should be served at a room temperature of between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (12 and 15 degrees Celsius).

Glass: It’s simple to choose the ideal glass for Chianti. Sommeliers advise using a tulip-shaped glass or a “standard” red wine glass to appreciate Chianti wines. A typical red wine glass measures 8 to 9 inches tall and has a capacity of 13 to 14 ounces.

8. Tips for pairing Brunello and Chianti with different foods

We will recommend some menu that we think will go well with Brunello and Chianti along with the appropriate reasons:


  • Portobello Mushroom Steak:

Brunello di Montalcino enjoys meaty foods and portobello mushrooms fit the bill with their flavorful body and rich texture. You might think that your options for serving red wine are restricted if you are a vegetarian. 

The good news is that a roasted Portobello mushroom steak may stand up to a strong sip of Brunello di Montalcino if you like mushrooms.

The earthy, meaty, and savory flavors of portobello steak complement the earthy, herbaceous, and gamey flavors of Brunello di Montalcino. You also get the flavors of tar, caffeine, black pepper, and chocolate, which adds even more spiciness to this combination.

  • Elk Steak: 

It’s important to savor the flavors of elk steak. Elk steak is similar to lean beef, but it has a soft texture and an unexpected quantity of flavor. Elk’s juicy flavors may compete with Brunello di Montalcino’s relatively loud cherry, plum, and blackberry aromas. 

Additionally, the flavors of the grilled or roasted steak are complemented by the aromas of pepper, smoke, spices, herbs, and chocolate.

Because the tannin in Brunello di Montalcino breaks down the protein molecules in the steak, more flavor is released into your mouth when you match it with an elk steak.


  • Spaghetti and Meatballs: 

Chianti has a lot of acidity, so it won’t conflict with the tomato-based sauce. Instead, the acidity of the tomatoes is enhanced by the wine’s bright fruity flavors.  The herbaceous, earthy, and smokey flavors of Chianti Classico, however, go well with any herbs in your meatballs or tomato sauce.

Chianti Classico contains moderate to high tannin, which is eased by the protein found in your meatballs.  The meatballs’ proteins are also broken down by the tannin, giving them a more savory and wonderful flavor.

  • Lasagna:

Chianti Classico is the ideal red wine to combine with lasagna. Each of the mouthwatering flavors may taste lively and fresh because of the strong acidity of Chianti Classic, which cuts through the thick layers of protein, fat, and carbs.  This is because acidity prevents the fats and carbs that can block our taste receptors from adhering to them.

The relationship between food and wine is strengthened by the herbal and spicy flavors of Chianti, which go well with any of the spices in your lasagna.

9. FAQs

Q: What distinguishes Chianti and Brunello?

The mix is a key distinction between the two wines. Brunello must be prepared with 100% Sangiovese grapes according to tight regulations, whilst Chianti Classico is permitted to include a combination of up to 10% other grape varieties.

Q: Is Sangiovese used in Brunello always?

A Brunello typically consists entirely of Sangiovese. The best Brunello wines have a strong fragrance intensity, a light and elegant body, and a pleasant finish. Despite having the distinctive tannins of Sangiovese, the wine is dependably well-balanced. One of the earliest DOCGs was Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Q: What makes Brunello so unique?

Sangiovese Grosso, a special varietal of the Sangiovese grape, is the source of Brunello. Large, juicy grapes with thick outer layers, significant acidity, and strong tannins are its trademarks.

Q: Why is Chianti so well-known?

Its food friendliness is one of the primary causes for its appeal. As you drink the wine with your meal, the acidity helps to cleanse your palate. Sangiovese grapes aren’t the only ones utilized to make Chianti wine, of course. 

Q: What does Brunello mean?

Locals called what was thought to be a unique grape type cultivated in Montalcino by the nickname Brunello, which is short of Bruno (which means “brown”).

Q: Does Brunello wine have a sweet or dry taste?

Long aging in large vats, often constructed of Slavonian oak, is a traditional step in the production of Brunello di Montalcino wine. This produces extremely complex wines, yet some people think this style is overly dry and tannic.

Q: How should Brunello wine be sipped?

To bring out the full, harmonious fragrance of the Brunello di Montalcino wine, large, rounded crystal glasses should be used for serving. It has to be served between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius. To properly oxygenate the extremely ancient bottles and present the wine in its whole purity, they should be poured into a crystal jug.

Q: Which wine is sweeter, Brunello or Chianti?

It’s hard to say definitively, as there’s a lot of variation among wines of both types. In general, wines from later harvests tend to be sweeter than those from earlier harvests. However, both Brunello and Chianti can be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. Therefore, the best way to determine a wine’s sweetness is to look at the label.

10. Conclusion

Even in its homeland of Italy, the argument between Chianti and Brunello is still going strong. Some of these distinctions are subtle, so someone who is unfamiliar with the wines may not immediately recognize them. I hope that our article about Chianti vs Brunello will give you more information about these two wines and assist you in making the right choice.

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