Amarone: A Life Changing Wine

Begali amarone

Calling Amarone a life changing wine may seem a little exaggerated but that is exactly how I described it to Lissette. Yes I understand that this wine probably will have no real effect on your day-to-day life but it may change the way you look at wine. It did for me.

I first learned about Amarone at a wine tasting in 2008 (we had a Cesari Amarone). It was by far the best wine of the night and I was immediately hooked! Sadly even the “inexpensive” bottles run around $40. Since my first taste I’ve only had a handful of bottles and a few glasses at wine events, but I have yet to be disappointed.

 As I mentioned in an earlier post my parents were in town this weekend and we had a bottle of 2006 Lorenzo Begali Amarone. That bottle inspired me to share just how awesome Amarone is.

You’re probably wondering what makes Amarone so great. For me it has all of the characteristics I like most in a wine.  It’s a dry, full-bodied wine with ripe fruit flavors and low acidity. The tannins are soft and the wine has a rich creaminess to it.  The wine is very complex and has a long bold finish. I could go on and on!

Personally I could drink it on its own but it goes wonderfully with red meat and with traditional Italian meals like pasta, veal parmesan and lasagna. Because it is such a bold wine it needs a heavy dish or sharp cheese. It may be over powering for lighter more delicate foods like fish and very spicy food will only seem spicier if you eat them with an Amarone.

The official name for Amarone is Amarone della Valpolicella. It’s a wine that ages well and can be put down for a long time.  It is from the same region of Italy as Valpolicella wine and uses the same grapes but the process of making the wine is different.  The grapes for Amarone are picked earlier and dried for several months, before undergoing the fermentation process, giving them a raisiny flavor and higher sugar content. This process known as appassimento, contributes to the complex fruit flavors, roundness to the texture of the wine and high alcohol levels (around 15%).

If you’re like me you probably can’t afford to drink wines at this price point that often. I would recommend trying a Valpolicella. It’s a more medium bodied wine and does not have the same complexity as an Amarone, but it will share some of the same characteristics of Amarone since they are from the same region and using the same types of grapes. Specifically look for a Valpolicella Ripasso because the leftover grape skins a seed from the Amarone are used in the Ripasso, giving it characteristic more akin to an Amarone. You can usually get a Valpolicella Ripasso for $15 -$25.  

When that special occasion does roll around and you want to splurge grab an Amarone and see if it changes you’re life! (Lissette and I already have our special occasion picked out.)

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Posted on April 27, 2011, in Amarone, Recommendations, Valpolicella and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Amarone: A Life Changing Wine.

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