Sangiovese and Brunello are red wines from Tuscany, Italy. They range from dry to sweet, with many stops in between. All Brunello wine is made from Sangiovese grapes, but not all Sangiovese wine is called Brunello. Brunello is made from a specific Sangiovese grape, a clone called Sangiovese Grosso, which produces more giant grapes.
What Is Similar About Sangiovese and Brunello?
Sangiovese and Brunello are so similar that sometimes they’re mistaken for the same wine. But Sangiovese grapes are used in many famous Italian wines, not just Brunello. In addition, these wines tend to be higher in tannins than average. Historically, they were sold in squat bottles called a fiasco, but today that’s more of a novelty and not a widespread practice.
Brunello wines are aged for at least two years, but sometimes more than 10. Sangiovese wines, in general, are aged for at least 30 months, three of which must be in the bottle, but they can be aged for just as long as Brunello.
What Is The Difference Between Sangiovese Vs. Brunello?
Brunello wine is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, whereas Sangiovese wines are a blend of this grape and others. This means Brunello has a reasonably consistent flavor profile. But Sangiovese wines can vary greatly depending on the wine it’s mixed with.
Brunello wine is often far more expensive than Sangiovese wines. For example, Collina DEI Lecci Brunello di Montalcino goes for about $30 a bottle, and that’s on the low end for Brunello. Biondi Santi Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG (2012) is closer to $200. On the other hand, Sangiovese can be expensive, easily costing more than $200, but there are a few more options around the $20 to $40 range.
These prices are because of Italy’s requirements for Sangiovese and Brunello ones. The grapes must be grown in Tuscany, and Brunello must be 100% Sangiovese, and Sangiovese blends must be at least 80% Sangiovese. They also have requirements on the fermentation process and how much alcohol is needed to call the wine by these names.
Which One Is Sweeter Or Drier Than The Other?
Brunello is a dry wine, but it’s harder to place Sangiovese wines in general because they’re a category of wines, not a specific wine. Because of this, you’re more likely to find a sweet wine among the blends. However, their alcohol requirements can make them lean toward being dry since sugar is consumed to increase the wine’s alcohol content.
Which One Has More Alcohol Content?
Brunello generally has more alcohol, topping off at about 16% ABV. Sangiovese wines can have the same amount of alcohol, but they can also have as little as 12% ABV due to their wide variation. So if you were choosing a random wine, Brunello is a safer bet for having more alcohol. Otherwise, take a peek at the label to see where the wine falls.
How Do I Choose Between Sangiovese and Brunello?
To choose between Sangiovese and Brunello, consider the following:
Both Sangiovese and Brunello are relatively expensive wines. But you’re more likely to find an affordable wine when looking for Sangiovese wines in general rather than strictly Brunello.
Brunello is traditionally dry, but some Sangiovese wines are sweeter.
Brunello usually has more alcohol than a random Sangiovese wine.
Telling the difference between Sangiovese and Brunello wines is somewhat complex. But Sangiovese refers to any wine made with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. Brunello is always pure Sangiovese. These wines can be pricey due to their strict production requirements, but they’re worth a try if you’re interested in authentic Italian wine.