Mosaico di Vita | Consorzio Vini di Romagna
June 2021 | Wine

Sangiovese: around an iconic grape (in much less than 80 days)

Some names used to be called in a different way

For example, Sangiovese, the most characteristic vine of Romagna. The name appears on the labels of our most beloved wines; it is mentioned by writers and poets like Carducci, Pascoli and Mario Soldati; it can be loudly cried out or quietly whispered to customers and tourists. But since when has Sangiovese been called this way? And, most importantly, why?

In the beginning was a name

The most widely accepted theory is that of Thomas Hohnerlein-Buchinger. According to this theory, which follows that of Austrian linguist Friedrich Schürr, the second part of the word, “-giovese”, derives from the Latin term jugum, which means “yoke”: a reference to the long and rounded shape of a mountain or the hills of Romagna. While the initial part, “San-“, refers to “sangue”, or “blood”: a widely used metaphor in the ancient times to indicate liquids obtained from working the earth.

Delving into words, not into facts

Looking into the etymology of a name means setting out on a long journey, full of dangers and obstacles. A journey like those that were frequently taken between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century. And this is not a random time frame: this is where our journey begins.

The year was 1625 and Sangiovese was mentioned for the very first time in a notarial deed written in Latin. This is a very important document about the sale of “salmarum quinque vini nigri S. Giuesij”, or “five salme (about 380 liters) of black S. Giuesio wine”. In another notarial deed, dated 1672, a woman, Maria Alpi, grants a vineyard to the rector of the church of Pagnano, setting aside “three rows of Sangiovese” located near her residence.

Through the twists and turns of history, the term “Sangiovese” has come down to us, although its origins still remain unclear and there is no certainty on how it will evolve. But for now, we’ll keep it as it is, a ten-letter word that embodies the identity of Romagna and its people.

And now that we know it a little better, let’s toast to Sangiovese!