With all the mystery surrounding Amarone, you’d expect the wine to be created during the Renaissance, and worthy of a Da Vinci code mystery. However, Amarone is a very recent phenomenon.
Amarone wasn’t commercialized until the 50’s when Bolla, Masi and Bertani introduced it into the market. The mystery comes from the complex flavours and aromas of these wines as they are a balanced and intricate melody of cherry, coffee, tar, spice and almonds. The wine is also balanced while remaining high in alcohol and silky flavours.
To Make Amarone, wine producers in the Veneto region of Italy take their best Corvina, Rondinella grapes (and perhaps along with smaller amounts of Molinara, Croatina, Negrara and Dindareella), and dry them out on straw mats from October to January. This causes the grapes to lose 30-40% of their weight, and you end up with a grape that has a dramatic increase in sugar, without losing any of its acidity.
This is how the German’s make Trockenbeerenauslese, and the French make Sauternes, with one exception. With Amarone, winemakers ferment most of the sugar, bringing alcohol content up to about 14%-16%. Thus, with most of the sugar fermented, you will not end up with a sweet wine. In fact the name Amarone derives from amar meaning ‘bitter’ and one meaning ‘big’
The high acidity leaves the wine dry, and the sugar does not contribute sweetness but imparts a concentrated fruit reduction on the tongue.
Lush Syrupy Amarone (Modern Style) and Food Pairings
Depending on how it’s produced, the styles of Amarone can range from a rich, thick and syrupy port-like wines to wines that have more dried fruit flavours, and spicy flavours.
Modern Amarone and Parmesan Cheese
For the rich and syrupy Amarone, our number one pairing is with stinky cheeses, like Parmigiano Reggiano, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Roquefort and Danish blue, or Recioto. Rich and syrupy wines generally use less of the Molinara grape, and the grapes are most likely dried for longer, resulting in more concentration.
These styles of wine may also need ageing for several years in your cellar before even attempting to pair, or drink.
Dried Fruit Amarone (Traditional Style) and Food Pairings
Amarone and Lamb
The more traditional style of Amarone are complex, earthy and have flavours of dried cherry and plum. It’s these dried cherry flavours which provide the perfect foil to the gaminess that lamb might have. There’s also enough protein and fat in lamb to tame the tannin in this wine.
Duck and Amarone
Because Amarone is produced in a style where the grapes are reduced by being dried out, they go great with any dish where foods are cooked in reduction sauces. Imagine a roasted duck, drizzled with a reduction sauce containing the Amarone, paired side by side with a glass of the Amarone. The food would mirror the wine, and your mouth would be in heaven.
Amarone is also excellent with Liver and Fava beans. If your mind jumps to Hannibal Lector, and ‘Silence of the Lambs’, bravo. The original line in the book was this classic pairing. Movie producers changed the line to Chianti as they felt audiences would not know what Amarone was.
General Amarone and Wine Matches
If you are unsure of your style of Amarone, stick to pairing with a hearty meal, and you should be safe. Slow-Cooked Lamb, Beef Short Ribs, Venison, Steak, Veal, Grouse, Wild Boar, and robust Pasta Dishes will all go great.
Wild Boar and Amarone
A lush Amarone with spicy dark fruit flavour is also exceptional with Wild Boar. Wild Boar is a leaner but stronger flavoured and gamier meat than pork. It also dries out the longer you cook it, so to be appreciated, it needs to be rare, making it full of fat and protein. As Amarone has a lot of tannin and requires years of ageing, rare wild boar will help tame this wine. Meanwhile, the concentrated fruit flavours marry well with the intense taste of wild boar and cover up the gamier notes.
Venison and Amarone
Again with Venison, you have a gamey food with a flavour that not everyone appreciates. This is why Venison is often served with a fruit sauce, as it covers up these more intense flavours. With Amarone, and it’s dried fruit flavours, you can skip the sauce. Instead, enjoy how the grippy tannin is softened by the protein flavours of fattier cuts of Venison.
Amarone and Pasta Pairing
Being an Italian wine, we’d be crazy not to talk about Pasta. And Amarone is amazing with pasta with a duck (Bigoli co l’Anara), or rabbit sauce (Pappardelle alla Lepre). Again, the tannin loves the protein and fat in these sauces, while the fruity flavours elevate the meal by masking any gamey flavour.
Do you have a favourite Amarone and Food Pairing? Let us know in the comments below!
Discover More Amarone Pairings