You’ve probably had this Italian Wine

If you’re a regular wine drinker, I’m probably right. I know I had a glass or two or three or more of this before I started taking wine seriously. According to the WSET 3 book, it’s the second most important red wine DOC (Italian designation that specifies geographical area, grape varieties and minimum alcohol level. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata).

You probably had Valpolicella made in the Veneto region, which is located in Northeast Italy, the same region where you’ll find the home of Romeo and Juliet, Verona, and the magical city of Venice.

It’s mainly made of the Corvina varietal, and can also contain Rondinella and Molinara among other grapes that are permitted. If you’ve ever had Valpolicella Classico DOC, then you had some of the very best Valpolicellas.

Red grapes in Valpolicella

Valpolicella DOC wines only contain red grapes, the principal one being Corvina. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

You may not have had Amarone della Velpolicella DOC, Recioto della Valpolicella DOC or Ripasso della Valpolicella DOC wine. All these DOCs use semi dried grapes but their end result are different. Here’s what I learned in class because the way the book explained it, frankly, sucks.

Valpolicella Classico DOC is partially made from semi-dried grapes.

Amarone della Valpolicella DOC is completely made with semi-dried grapes.

Recioto della Valpolicella DOC is made completely with semi-dried grapes as well, however, fermentation is stopped early producing a full-bodied, sweet red wine.

Lastly, Ripasso della Valpolicella DOC wine is made by mixing the basic Valpolicella wine with the unpressed skins of the Amarone della Valpolicella or Recioto della Valpolicella. Basically, the wine will be refermented by doing this.

Because the teacher put me on the spot when he asked me about this very topic, I’ll always remember this. If what you do doesn’t make you step outside your comfort zone, you’re not improving.

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