Amarone: Worth the Spend

You’ve seen it on the wine list at fancy restaurants but you’ve never tried it because you have no idea what the hell it is and it’s out of your budget. Am I right? I was there too, but Amarone is a wine not to be missed and it’s certainly worth the splurge.

Amarone della Valpolicella is a rich, dry, Italian red wine made predominantly with the Corvina grape, native to northeastern Italy. Corvina gives characteristics of high acidity, bright red color, cherry and herb notes to the wines it’s used in. The Corvina grapes are dried for weeks in temperature-controlled rooms eventually becoming the raisins that are pressed and fermented to produce this wine. The process brings out a bold, velvety, rich red with typically 14-16 percent alcohol.

I had it a few times during travels in Italy but had not enjoyed it Stateside until Michael and I were celebrating our anniversary.  We were doing a little bar hop around some of our favorite spots and met at Eataly, who happened to be featuring Amarone that week.  We ordered a flight full of generous, delicious pours, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  All wines from the tasting are linked below. 

My suggestion is almost always to order a red meat or pasta and pair it with a big red wine when out to dinner. Amarone is perfect with beef or gamey meats and hearty pastas. I strongly suggest a Wild Boar Ragu but that’s also just one of my favorite dishes!

Michael’s Homemade Wild Boar Ragu

The production process for making the wine is part of what adds to the expense of each bottle.  Starting with the harvest of specific indigenous grapes to the drying process, the time and labor alone makes this wine stand out, even if the taste didn’t.  Because the drying process causes the grapes to lose about 40% of their juice twice as many grapes have to be used in an already small, controlled area in Valpolicella. 

Wine Enthusiast actually came out with a best wines to drink in 2019 and 1997 Amarone is on the list.  The prices are a bit outrageous for this vintage.  My research boasted a range from $85 to $1,500 and up.  If your pockets run that deep, I’ll make you a deal.  You buy the wine and I’ll make the dinner, DM for the address! 

In all seriousness though, I think Amarone is one of those wines that make you realize what wine should taste like.  That richness hits your tongue and fills your mouth just as your eyes roll back in utter pleasure.

Serafini & Vidotto Amarone della Valopolicella, 2015

     This maker ages the wine in oak barrels for 18 months after being fermented in stainless steel.  From the barrels it’s transferred to the bottle to age for another year before being sold.  It’s a bright ruby red with red fruit notes and strong spice with layers of violet and chocolate liquor. 

Tommasi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2013

     This wine is aged for 3 years in Slovenian Oak barrels, which shows a warm, ripe intensity and notes of dark cherry and plum. 

Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2013 

      With 16.5% ABV this baby is a heavy hitter.  The acidity in this wine is balanced out nicely in comparison to the noticable tannins and high alcohol content.  Catch a hint of bitterness among the vanilla, pipe tobacco, and cherry notes as you swirl the wine through your mouth. 

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