Ripasso Wine and Food Pairings


Ripasso is what I like to call  ‘baby Amarone’ as it is made from the left over dried grapes that are originally used to make Amarone.  Basically they add these Amarone grapes to a Valpolicella wine to increase the flavour and/or intensity of the wine.  On the label you may see it as Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore, Ripasso Style, or Ripassa, however most people refer to it verbally as Ripasso.  Valpolicella itself is a wine region, and in general, the term refers to red wine that is produced using three main grape varietals: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara.

Dinner Party Scene from Clue the Movie

Amarone is often expensive as a lot of effort, time and resources go into making it.  As such, people often pair Amarone with Foods that are eaten during special occasions as it is a wine that demands a lot of attention.  Ripasso, on the other hand, is perfect for more everyday situations.  While it will go great with a wide variety of foods, I still suggest you pair it up with something with a lot of heft as it is a fuller-bodied wine with a lot of complexity and flavour.  Here is my suggests of four foods to pair with Ripasso.

Valpolicella Ripasso DOC and Grilled Steak

Ripasso normally has a slightly spicy nose, and a savoury dark fruit and cherry flavour.  The Amarone grapes used tend to impart a bittersweet flavour as well, and you may often find flavours of mocha, chocolate, and port within this wine.  The bittersweet flavours of Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore make it perfect for grilled meats which are bittersweet themselves from the grilling process.  Ripasso is hefty enough to handle the meat, while the dark fruit flavours of the wine will make this meal taste even better.

Zenato Ripassa Label

Ripasso Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto

Ripasso tends to have a velvety texture that matches the richer texture of a well-made Risotto.  The vibrant flavours of Ripasso, such as chocolate, licorice and black plums blend in well with the earthy mushroom flavours of the Risotto.

Ripasso DOC Wine and Spaghetti and Meatballs

Ripasso generally has a medium acidic finish, which allows it to go well with tomato based sauces.  Without a certain degree of acidity, a wine will make the tomato sauce seem quite flat and metallic.  The plumpness of a Ripasso will hold up well against the meaty texture and taste of Meatballs as well.  In fact this wine goes great with any meaty pasta sauce, particularly homemade meat sauces.  (if you don’t know how to make your own homemade meat sauce, get ‘googling’ for a recipe or  make friends with an Italian family, just please stay away from the canned stuff.)

Ripasso and Grilled Venison Chops

Ripasso is a great wine to match with Venison as the wine will mask the gaminess of the meat.  I chose Grilled Venison Chops for a great pairing as the grilled nature of the meat goes extremely well with the bittersweet flavours of Ripasso wine.  The dark plum flavours, along with licorice and cherry are simply wonderful with grilled venison chops.  Both the wine and the meal are perfect for a brisk fall evening at the hunting lodge, or in the backyard.

The Ultimate Dinner Party Wine

If you’re stuck on what to bring to a dinner party, try a Ripasso.  They have great flavour, pairs well a variety of foods, has a bit of old world and cultural elegance, and are generally not expensive.