The Valpolicella wine owes its name to the Valpolicella region. This particular area of Italy is just a couple of hours drive east of Milan, in the county of Verona. The meaning of the name “Valpolicella” is not certain and has been the subject of various debates over the centuries. A theory has that the name derives from the latin word for “valley”(Vallis); the greek word for “many” (Polis) and the latin word for cellar (Cella). Vallis-Poli-Cella which literally translates into “The valley of the many cellars”
A second theory has that the name derives from the greek word polyzelos which translates into “The land of the many fruits”
The debate about the origin of the name is still open and all the many theories, included the two described above, highlight how rich this territory is.
Its history as a main wine region goes back to the Roman times. Although it was in the Middle Ages that there was a strong growth of the viticulture. It is thought that already in the fourteenth century 35% of the agricultural land was dedicated to the cultivation of grapes.
5 things to know about Valpolicella wine
The Valpolicella is a DOC wine: what does DOC stand for?
The abbreviation DOC stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata”. It was introduced in the mid fifties by the Roman lawyer Rolando Ricci, an official of the then ministry of agriculture.
The term DOC marks how the production process has gone through an indepth examination to certify its quality and compliance with the official regulations.
Valpolicella is a dry wine
This is a particular wine obtained by the vines in the valley north of Verona. The color is deep ruby red, the bouquet is vinous, pleasant, characteristic, which sometimes recalls bitter almonds, the taste is dry or velvety, full-bodied, bitterish, sapid and harmonious. The grapes destined for vinification must have a minimum natural alcohol content of 10°, with a tolerance of half a degree.
Which Valpolicella wine is best?
There are actually three types of Valpolicella wine:
Amarone della Valpolicella
It was born in 1950 and it is obtained from grapes left to dry in special rooms, on wooden trellises: the fermentation is completed and thus an opulent dry wine is obtained, which has a particularly high alcohol content. The Amarone is one of the most renowed red wine in the world.
Born in the late 70s early 80s the Ripasso is obtained with the addition, to the fermented Valpolicella wine, of pressed Recioto or Amarone grapes, in order to trigger a new fermentation. This wine is certainly more full-bodied and powerful wine than the base Valpolicella. It is a DOC wine as well.
Recioto della Valpolicella
This is the third wine of the Valpolicella and follows the same procedure of the Amarone with one exception. The fermentation is not completed, leaving residual sugars in the wine. This process leads to a passito wine with a high concentration of sugars.
How to pair Valpolicella wine
The Recioto is a wine considered to be a “dessert wine”. It usually pairs with dark chocolate and it is also perfect with the Pandoro, the typical dessert of the Verona area. Some also like it at the end of the meal with very seasoned cheeses. You can also enjoy it while smoking a cigar after dinner.
The Amarone is surely in harmony with autumn and winter foods, such as: braised meats, stews and roasts and with “important” dishes. It also pairs perfectly with cured meats and coldcuts such as soppressa, salame and pancetta. The Amarone is also used to make the delicious “Risotto all’Amarone”.
The Ripasso gives its best when paired with dishes based on red meat. The pairing is also incredible with other main courses: try the Ripasso with jugged wild boar or pheasant with mushrooms. Another excellent choice would be to have it with “Coniglio alla cacciatora” (Rabbit cooked with tomatoes, onions and black olives)
Valpolicella with pizza is not a good idea
Well it actually depends on how much you enjoy drinking wine. Pizza is always an excellent option and a nice glass of red wine can be paired with it. Especially with those kind of heavy and strong pizzas like the one with Italian sausage or bell peppers. We encourage though not to have a Valpolicella with pizza given its cost. It would be a sin to sip a glass of this incredibly excellent wine with a simple slice of pizza.
*Cover picture by Daniel Vogel as available on unsplash.com