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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What’s the difference between Chianti Classico and Chianti Superiore?

—Sunil M., Hong Kong

Dear Sunil,

Let’s start with what’s similar first. Both Chianti Classico and Superiore are red wines from the Chianti district in Italy’s Tuscany region. Both are made primarily from Sangiovese grapes. Even though “Classico” and “Superiore” sound like they might be statements about the quality of the wine, in fact they are designations, or Denominaziones di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), with different requirements for which grapes go into the wine and how long it is aged.

Chianti Classico is named for where it is grown: Classico is one of seven subregions within Chianti, and Classicos must be at least 80 percent Sangiovese and aged for 10 months. Chianti Superiore gets its designation not from a region, but production and aging requirements. Grapes for a Superiore can come from any of the subregions within Chianti (except for Classico) and the wines must be aged for nine months, three of which must be in bottle before being released.

—Dr. Vinny

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