In these days of uncertainty, comfort foods, with their simplicity and predictability, provide a small measure of reassurance. And so do wines that have withstood the test of time — wines that we can go back to again and again, knowing they will be satisfying.
I thought about this over a recent dinner of spaghetti Bolognese accompanied by one of the iconic wines of Tuscany, Ruffino’s Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva. Ruffino is one of Italy’s biggest wine companies and has produced its Riserva Ducale for almost a century. How’s that for a test of time?
The dominant grape in Chianti Classico, the broader Chianti region, and all of Tuscany is Sangiovese, and the variety’s high acidity makes it a great match for dishes like spaghetti Bolognese and many other tomato-based, Italian-inspired recipes.
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That acidity means the wine won’t be overpowered by the aggressive acidity of the tomatoes —in other words, you’ll still be able taste the flavors of the wine after taking a sauce-drenched forkful of your spaghetti!
In Ruffino’s 2016 Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico, those tastes suggest cherry, blueberry, and pomegranate, accented by rosemary and other herbs on the long finish. The wine spends time aging in oak, stainless steel, and concrete vats, and I found the oak influence quite pronounced at this stage, giving the wine a good deal of spiciness.
The blend is 80 percent Sangiovese and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the latter two giving it added tannic structure and greater complexity. The average price is $22 on Wine-Searcher.
There are plenty of Chianti Classicos out there from producers large and small. Ruffino’s Riserva Ducale is a workhorse of the category that you can easily find — and that never disappoints.