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Sangiovese grapes are small to medium in size, about the size of a marble, and are round to oval in shape, growing in tight clusters. The smooth, thin skin is deep blue to dark purple and has a slight shine. The flesh is translucent, seeded, and has medium to strong tannins and very high acidity. Typically known as a wine grape, Sangiovese grapes can be enjoyed fresh for their mild, sweet, and slightly tart flavor. When vinified, Sangiovese wine is highly nuanced with flavors of tart cherry, plum, strawberry, tomato, tobacco, and dried rose.
Sangiovese grapes are available late summer through fall.
Sangiovese grapes, botanically classified as Vitis vinifera ‘Sangiovese,’ are Italy’s most popular and most planted grape variety. Believed to be a cross between calabrese contenuovo and ciliegiolo, Sangiovese is a term used to describe the grape and a number of similar varieties, also known as clones. Sangiovese grapes are known by many names including Sangiovese Grosso, Sangiovese Piccolo, Brunello, Prugnolo, Morellino, Nielluccio, Sanvicetro, and Sangioveto. Sangiovese grapes are typically used as a wine grape and are often blended with other grapes to make some of the most premier, food-friendly wines in Italy.
Sangiovese grapes are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, thiamine, dietary fiber, and resveratrol, an important phytonutrient in maintaining heart health.
Sangiovese grapes are predominately used in wine production, and the most popular blend for Sangiovese grapes is Chianti. The grapes can also be consumed raw and served on a cheese board or fruit plate. Sangiovese grapes pair well with hard cheeses and the wine pairs well with tomato-based pasta and pizza, meatloaf, roast chicken, basil, thyme, and sage, grilled or smoked meats, steak, eggplant, fennel, mushrooms, garlic, onions, roasted bell peppers, black olives, capers, walnuts, and pecans. The grapes will keep up to one week when stored in the refrigerator.
The name “Sangiovese” comes from the Latin term sanguis jovis which literally translates to “blood of Jove.” Jove refers to the Roman god Jupiter who was the supreme god of Roman mythology. Rumor has it that Sangiovese grapes were named by monks in east-central Italy who lived near Jupiter mount during a banquet as a response to when Pope Leone XII asked what kind of wine he was drinking.
Originally from the Tuscany region of Italy, Sangiovese grapes are Italy’s primary red wine grape, and the first written reference to Sangiovese grapes was in the eighteenth century. They then came to the United States with Italian immigrants in the 19th century but did not become popular due to erratic growth habits and inconsistent flavors. Today Sangiovese grapes can be found for winemaking and at specialty markets in the United States and Italy.