What is Amarone?
Amarone della Valpolicella is an Italian red wine from the Valpolicella region in the province of Veneto. Amarone is made from a blend of indigenous grape varieties. Special production methods give it its own classification within the region.
What are the Grapes in Amarone?
Amarone uses grapes that are indigenous to the Valpolicella region. These are the three most common grape varieties used:
- Corvina Veronese
How is Amarone Made?
Instead of using fresh picked, ripe grapes for fermentation, Amarone winemakers use partially dried-out, almost raisin-like grapes, during fermentation. This means the sugars and flavours are concentrated because there is less water in each grape.
The process is called appassimento which involves drying the grapes in crates or on racks over the winter months. This drying out process evaporates the water in the grapes and reduces their weight by about 30%. This means there is an increase the sugar concentration allowing for higher alcohol content in Amarone wine.
What Does Amarone Wine Taste Like?
Although every producer has their own style of winemaking, you’ll likely find these flavours and aromas in a typical glass of Amarone:
- brown sugar
How Much Does Amarone Cost? Is It Really That Expensive?
First, we need to consider what goes into making Amarone della Valpolicella. It’s not a quick and easy process compared to other wine styles. That increase in production time and labour means an increase in price. Here are a few factors that increase the cost:
- production is strictly regulated: only certain grape varieties can be used; where grapes are grown is controlled and there isn’t a lot of land designated for vineyards in Valpolicella; yields are restricted; there are specific ageing requirements;
- traditionally the grapes are dried out for about 3 months before fermentation
- the grapes lose at least 40% of their water content which means nearly twice as many grapes are needed to make the same amount as other wines.
- fermentation generally happens at cooler temperatures which means it takes longer for the grapes to ferment.
With all of these factors going into the cost of Amarone, it’s not wonder it’s often more expensive than other wines.
You can find a decent bottle of Amarone for around $50-60, but we recommend spending a little extra. If you want a truly remarkable Amarone experience, you’ll want to spend about $90+ and don’t look back because it’s worth it.
Is There a Less Expensive Alternative to Amarone?
There is! Ripasso della Valpolicella.
It doesn’t have the same body and intensity as Amarone, but Ripasso is an affordable, every day alternative. You can save your Amarone wines for special occasions and try Ripasso for Tuesday night pasta and Thursday night pizza nights!
Ripasso is similar because it uses the leftover pomace (grape skins) from Amarone. After Amarone is made, the pomace is added to fresh Valpolicella juice and fermented together to give the wine more richness and flavour intensity than regular Valpolicella. You’ll get hints of dried fruit, a little more body and a higher alcohol content which will remind you of Amarone without the high price tag.
Why We Love Amarone
- rich fruit flavours
- intense, concentrated flavour
- complex profile
- full bodied
- higher alcohol
- delicious with or without food
What Are Some Tasty Amarone Wine and Food Pairings?
A traditional meal in Verona calls for risotto with salami and lots of Grana Padano parmesan cheese. This recipe from Countdown also calls for some white wine in the sauce as well as olives. Try adding some fresh basil to the dish as a garnish and a little extra cheese.
Game is a classic pairing with Amarone della Valpolicella. The robust flavours of the wine and the dish pair wonderfully together. This recipe from Taste of Home has great reviews and you can always add a little wine to the recipe, too.
Amarone della Valpolicella as a Meditation Wine
If you’ve never heard the phrase “meditation wine”, you’re not alone. It is exactly what you might think — a wine for sipping and relaxing. Although food pairs deliciously with Amarone, it’s not necessary to have this wine with food to enjoy the flavours. At the end of a meal, or the end of a long day, a glass of rich, smooth Amarone might be just the thing you need. Kick back on the sofa with no distractions and think about the wine, about life or about nothing at all.
Amarone Wines We Recommend