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.
It really 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 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. For the rich and syrupy Amarone, your safest bet 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 aging for several years in your cellar before even attempting to pair, or drink.
Dried Fruit Amarone and Food Pairings
With the other style, the dried cherry flavours go great with game birds such as duck or pheasant. Lamb is traditionally eaten with Amarone as the cherry flavours of the wine go well with the meat.
Because Amarone is produced in a style where the grapes are reduced by being dried out, they go great with any sort of dish where foods are cooked in reduction sauces. Imagine a roast 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, just stick to pairing with a hearty meal and you should be safe. Slow Cooked Lamb, Beef Short Ribs, Venison, Grouse , Wild Boar, and robust Pasta Dishes will all go great.