Veneto Cooking Class: Valpolicella Wine
While not as well known -- yet -- as Piedmont and Tuscan wines, Valpolicella red wine from the Veneto region is growing in popularity. These wines are made primarily with corvina grapes (as well as rondinella and molinara), have a bouquet of fruity flavors and wonderful aromas, and pair wonderfully with some classic Italian cuisine, which you can discover during a cooking class just outside Verona in the town of Santa Maria di Negrar.
Most well known is the Recioto Amarone, a complex and bold dry wine that pairs well with meat courses as well as cheeses. Another Valpolicella is simply the Recioto; winemakers dry out the grapes to concentrate the sugars, which results in a sweet wine with a velvety texture -- a perfect complement to pastries, as well as wine biscuits. It is also the strongest of the Valpolicella wines.
The Classico Superiore should not be overlooked either. Using a ripasso method -- sometimes referred to as a double fermentation -- the winemakers will mix the juice of the wine with pressed grapes from a batch of amarone wine. This adds both body and tannins to the wine, and creates a lighter version of the amarone. Drink this with entrees, such as polenta with sausages and cheese, or perhaps some fresh lake fish.
Last but most definitely not least is the Classico variety, which is very light and fruity. It also works well with first courses, including pastas with sauces.
While all these wines pair wonderfully with a variety of Italian dishes, it's also great to cook with. You could make a beautiful purple risotto by adding amarone wine to the rice, for one.
These DOC wines -- as well as the Classico, which has a DOCG designation -- hail from a beautiful area just north of Verona and east of Lake Garda. As you head to your cooking class, "Cooking in the Valpolicella Wine Region," you'll pass by miles of hillside vineyards, and perhaps even some rice paddies!
By Liz Hall