Amarone: wine made from raisins not grapes. Most wines are made fresh, juicy grapes that are picked then crushed for fermentation. When the yeasts and sugars play together, the end result is wine.
Amarone, on the other hand is made differently. Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes (the same that go into Valpolicella) are picked and then hung from the barn rafters or laid out on straw mats to dry for several months before entering into fermentation. This drying technique creates shriveled grapes with concentrated sugar, resulting in a gripping and impressive style.
If you like rich, concentrated, high alcohol Zinfandel (like Ridge or Turley in California), you will love Amarone. This is an intense complex wine with dark, raisin flavors, a hint of sweetness and even some bitterness. I like to think of it as a dry port.
Unfortunately, this is a risky winemaking process so yields are low, which makes Amarone expensive. The average retail price for a reputable producer is $50/bottle. If you are willing to splurge Masi is a safe bet. Cesari produces Amarone that is half the price, although this wine can be a hit or miss.
Stores: PJ Wine, Cesari $28.99, Masi $40.99 (4898 Broadway between 204th St & 205th St), Grapes the Wine Company, Cesari $34.99, (11 Purdy Avenue, Rye New York), Soho Wines & Spirits, Cesari $35.00 (461 W.Broadway between Prince & Houston), Beacon Wines, Masi $49.99 (2120 Broadway between 74th & 75th Street), Sherry-Lehman, Masi $49.99 (679 Madison between 61st & 62nd Street),
Many thanks to the Cheesmonger for inspiring this week’s wine post.