Gabbiano 2002 Chianti ($7.99)
This dark reddish-purple wine gleams against the light with the characteristic reddish-orange glints of Sangiovese-based wines. Rather underripe "green" and "veggie" scents and a distinct whiff of white pepper dominate more typical Chianti black cherries, but there's more fruit on the palate, where snappy sour cherries and lemon-squirt acidity come together in a clean and fairly long flavor. Lean and somewhat austere, it lacks the warming nature that makes more typical Chianti such an appealing "comfort wine;" but zippy acidity and varietal fruit save it, yielding a good food companion at a price that's right. US Importer: Beringer Blass Wine Estates, Napa, Calif. (Apr 25, 2004)
FOOD MATCH: It's almost a cliche to serve Chianti with red-sauced Italian dishes, but it's a cliche that works. Crisp acidity makes it an easy food match that works well with red meat, roast chicken or cheeses; we paired it with leftover rosticeria chicken from a local Mexican spot, sliced over a dinner salad.
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