Amarone della Valpolicella is an intensely flavored dry red wine made from dried (e.g. passito) grapes. It is made in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy, and is arguably the region's most prestigious red wine.
The amarone style developed as Veneto's winemakers searched for a way to increase the body, complexity and alcohol content of their wines. As demonstrated by modern-day reds Valpolicella and Garda, wines made from locally grown Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara can sometimes be too light to give satisfaction. These three mainstays of the Valpolicella vineyard are not renowned for their inherent depth (only Corvina is able to produce wines with much body), a deficiency compounded by the cool growing conditions of western Veneto. In order to concentrate the natural sugars and aromatics in Valpolicella wines, local producers began drying their grapes after harvest, to remove water from the berries while retaining sweetness and flavor.
This technique proved very successful, although initially it was used to produce sweeter styles of wine, such as those now known as Recioto della Valpolicella. The early amarone wines were seen as mistakes – recioto left to ferment for too long – but eventually the style gained recognition and respect. Amarone comes from the Italian word amaro ("bitter"), completed by the -one suffix which denotes impressive size or volume. When compared to the sweet recioto which the early amarones were supposed to be, this name is entirely logical.
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