Amarone (“ah-ma-RONE-eh”) is a very special wine produced in Italy’s Veneto (Venice) region. It is made using the centuries-old recioto method of picking the grapes late and then leaving them out to become partially raisined.
What Is Amarone?
Roughly translated, Amarone means “mo’ bitter.” As you may recall from my recent post on how language reflects our experiences, Italians are not opposed to descriptors such as “sour” or “bitter,” whereas Americans would not necessarily cleave to a wine described as such.
Some 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to visit an Italian winery that produces Amarone. What a treat to see the grapes being partially raisined. What an even bigger treat to taste the wine!
Amarone is a big, bad red wine with high alcohol content and ripe raisin and bitter almond notes. It pairs well with robust foods such as red meats and intense cheeses.
The wine’s intensity prompts wine makers to release it no earlier than five years from the vintage year, which allows it to mellow out a bit.
Is It “Mo’ Bitter?”
So is this wine really “mo’ bitter?” Well, yes, when compared to Amarone della Valpolicella, the name given to an Amarone whose fermentation is arrested midstream, leaving some residual sugar. Originally, Amarone della Valpolicella was more prolifically produced. Some say that Amarone was created by mistake, when the fermentation process was mistakenly allowed to continue for too long. When fermentation is arrested earlier, the resulting wine is sweeter, rendering Amarone della Valpolicella; when left longer, the literally “more bitter” Amarone results.
The Grapes in This Wine
Amarone is made up of three native Veneto red grapes:
- Corvina – This grape is the most flavorful and robust of the three grapes, and its thick skin protects against rot during the drying process. Some Amarones are made exclusively from this grape.
- Rondinella – A related offspring to Corvina, Rondinella produces a lot of juice, is resistant to grape diseases, and dries well.
- Molinara – This grape is being used increasingly less in the production of Amarone.
I would love to hear about your experiences with Amarone. Please share them here. Grazie!