Luca Ecari 2015-08-26 01:51:28
Ably the first to use the word “amaro” (bitter) was Scipione Maffei, an Italian literate from the Age of the Enlightenment. It should be no surprise, then, that Amarone is one of the most expensive Italian red wines, with a plethora of small and bigger winemakers in the Valpolicella region boast their own properties, vineyards and often historical properties in producing their own brands. A few notes about this famous wine: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta and Negrara are the purely Italian grape varieties which, accurately merged, give birth to the Amarone. The transformation technique of the grapes, known as “appassimento,” calls for a staged and closely monitored drying process, most typically performed on the traditional “graticci” grates on which the grapes are laid, to be exposed to air circulation, usually under the roofs of barns. The appassimento guarantees that the grapes reach a higher content of aroma and sugar. For this very same reason, the grapes must be hand picked and carefully selected to guarantee their integrity. The pressing (“pigiatura”) of the grapes cannot take place before the month of January following the harvest, and the wort (“mosto” in Italian) is so concentrated that the fermentation takes place at a slower pace than most wines. With an average of 15 percent alcohol content (Italian law dictates a minimum of 14 percent) Amarone is arguably one of the strongest red wines in the world. Despite its high alcoholic tenor, Amarone accompanies well a vast number of dishes, including roasted meats, desserts (try it with a chocolate or even cheese cake). This is an example of what goes in Italy under the name of “vini da meditazione” (meditation wines), characterizing full-bodied, usually (but not exclusively) sweet wines. Meditation wines are usually consumed, not strictly as a food companion, but with the requisite leisure -- “alone to enjoy” as the locals say. The famous Italian wine writer Luigi Luigi Veronelli (1926-2004) described them as “very complex and unusual wines, which are to be enjoyed in a long winter evening, sip for sip by the fireside.” Many of the wine cellars in Valpolicella are open to the publc. Some occupy ancient and sumptuous villas, or former benedictine monasteries, while others are utterly modern complexes at the forefront of current architecture. Our recommendation is to procure yourself a bottle of Amarone. Open the bottle and let it “breathe” for no less than half an hour. Get a wide, ample glass and pour a single sip of wine to rinse the glass with a circular movement. Empty the glass, then pour Amarone about a fourth of the way up the glass, to the widest spot, in order to maximize the aromas, thanks to the oxygenation. Serve at an ideal temperature between 64 to 68 degrees F. Leave a glass to taste after dinner, like a proper meditation wine, immersed in your armchair, facing a crackling fire or on the porch under a moonlit sky. Valpolicella has all the elements of a great wine tourism experience, and tourists needing a place to stay have many attractive options, from basic to luxurious, five-star experiences.
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