Chianti is arguably Italy's most famous red wine, taking its name from the traditional wine region of Tuscany where it is crafted. It used to be recognised by its rounded bottle enclosed in a woven straw basket, called fiasco (flask); however, today the fiasco is only used by a few winemakers; most Chianti is presented in traditional shaped red wine bottles.
Early drinking styles of Chianti wine are generally fairly inexpensive, with these Chianti wines selling for around NZ$20 for a 750ml bottle. More quality focused and complex Chianti wines, however are crafted and sold at substantially higher prices. Until the middle of the 19th century Chianti was based solely on in the indigenous Sangiovese red grape varietal, blended with a variable mix of other local varietals.

 

During the second half of the 19th century Baron Bettino Ricasoli (1809 - 1880) who was an important Chianti wine producer - and at the same time a minister in Tuscany and then Prime Minister in the Kingdom of Italy. He imposed his ideas on the blend: stating Chianti should be produced with 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia Bianca.
During the 1970's, producers started to reduce the quantity of white grapes in Chianti red wines and eventually from 1995 it is now legal to produce Chianti with 100% Sangiovese, or at least without the white grape varietals. 
If a Chianti has a label with a black rooster (known as the - Gallo Nero) on the neck of the bottle - this indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the 'Gallo Nero' Consortium; an association of quality wine producers of the 'Classico' sub-area, they set high standards so giving the buyer even more confidence in the quality of the Chianti.
Since 2005 the black rooster has been the emblem of the Chianti Classico producers association. Aged Chianti (which involves 38 months ageing instead of 4-7), may be labeled as 'Riserva'. Chianti that meets more stringent requirements, (lower yields, higher alcohol content and dry extract) may be labeled as Chianti 'Superiore'. Though it should be noted that a Chianti from the 'Classico' sub-area is not allowed in any case to be labeled as 'Superiore'.