The full-bodied Amarone wine

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A barrel of Amarone wine is aged for at least five years.

By Mary Malik

In late September through October in Valpolicella, in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy, grapes are harvested to create a rich, dry red wine called Amarone.

“The corvina, corvine and rondinella grapes are destined for Amarone wine and are the last to be harvested,” says Jim Sperk, of the Northern Ohio Wine Guild. “They are allowed to get as ripe as possible before any mold sets in.”

According to Jim, once the grapes are picked, they are placed in single layers on bamboo cane mats or plastic trays to allow air to circulate around the bunches. They are then placed in large drying rooms for three to four months, losing 30 to 40 percent of their weight along the way.

“During this period, the grapes shrivel into raisins resulting in intense concentration and a very high sugar content while still maintaining their acid balance,” says Jim.

Once pressed, the wines are aged for at least five years in large wooden barrels prior to release.

“This process is what makes Amarone unique in the wine world,” says Jim. “Amarone is a full-bodied wine known for its powerful flavor. The high sugar content translates to a high alcohol content, usually from 14 to 16 percent.”

Jim says that when tasting Amarone, you’ll get notes of raisins, plums and dark berries. But all this flavor comes at a high price, usually $50 to $80 a bottle.

Next month, Jim will reveal how to get the Amarone flavor at a much lower cost.

For information on the Northern Ohio Wine Guild, contact Jim Sperk at