Italian Wine News


Finding An Excuse for Amarone
Knight Ridder Newspapers – April 28, 2005

Amarone TommasiMary Ewing Mulligan knows wine. She's the first U.S. woman to earn a "master of wine" designation. She can give you lots of reasons you shouldn't drink the old-fashioned Italian wine called amarone:

  • Its name is translated as "big bitter."
  • "The masses don't necessarily get it."
  • "It's too weird to be an international wine."
  • "It's made of corvina, rondinella, molinara -- grapes you've never heard of."
  • "It's a dry wine that gives the impression of sweetness."
  • "It has an odd, almost contrived balance of high alcohol, high tannin and high acid."

She struggles to find a reason why you should drink it: "It's fruit-forward, with flavors of black cherries that can change when the wine is open to coffee and caramel -- a yin-yang of sweetness and dryness."

Try a glass of amarone by itself, or with a big slab of rare red meat or a chunk of stinky cheese. Its powerful, viscous, portlike (15 percent alcohol) opulence will let your taste buds know they're drinking a wine to be reckoned with.

Winemakers go to a lot of trouble making amarone, leaving the grapes on the vines as long as they dare. After four months of drying, the grapes have lost a third of their water but none of their sugar or acid. After four years of aging in oak casks and another year in the bottle, the wine develops its classic flavors of black cherries, coffee, vanilla and caramel. Aged further, it takes on the tones of raisins, jam and sherry.

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