A reflection of Amarone

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Ripasso is similar to Amarone, but at a much lower cost.

By Mary Malik

Last month we discovered Amarone wine of the Valpolicella region in Verona, Italy. This month, Jim Sperk, of the Northern Ohio Wine Guild, wants to stay in the family and introduce us to what is often referred to Amarone’s “little brother,” Ripasso wine from the same region.

“Ripasso is made from most of the same grapes as Amarone,” says Jim. “Valpolicella Ripassos are usually light table wines released only a few weeks after harvest, much like Beaujolais Nouveau.”

Valpolicella Ripassos are made by re-passing (ripasso) the basic wine over the dry grape skins left over after the fermentation process and three-month drying period used to make Amarone. After the wine is passed through the leftover grape skins, it is left to soak up the flavor of those skins for up to two weeks.

“Because of this process, Ripasso wines can be considered a reflection of Amarone, possessing the same essence, flavors and color but without the intensity or high alcohol content,” says Jim. “The skins still contain a lot of sweetness, but without the bitterness from tannins.”

Ripasso can be enjoyed right away with just a short breathing time or aged for up to 18 months and the flavor will only get richer.”

“Ripasso is a food-friendly wine and a great introduction to Italian reds for both casual wine drinkers and wine enthusiasts,” says Jim. “You’ll find a good bottle anywhere from $15 to $30.”

For information on the Northern Ohio Wine Guild, contact Jim Sperk at tinymoonwines@usa.net.