Amarone F.A.Q.

Amarone has become one of the most famous and appreciated wines, in Italy and abroad.
. Its appreciators are getting more and more, however there is still a lot of confusion about this extraordinary wine, mainly because of its special production method that makes it different from all the other premium red wines.


Let's make things a bit clearer with the answers to the most frequent questions divided by sections:

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No, Amarone is the name of a wine. Its complete denomination is Amarone della Valpolicella.

It is a blend of autochthonous Valpolicella vines: Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella. Other local, Italian and international varieties may contribute to a lesser extent. The percentages are established by the Consortium of Valpolicella Wines (producers' association): between 45% and 95% Corvina and Corvinone, between 5% and 45% Rondinella, up to 25% other grapes native to Valpolicella, up to 15% non native grapes. Most typical blend is 60-70% Corvina and Corvinone, 20-30% Rondinella, optional 10% of other varietals.

Valpolicella, hilly area north of the city of Verona, Veneto region, Italy.

The first bottle with the name Amarone on the label dates back to 1936. Amarone is a relatively young wine. It was born as a dry variant of Recioto della Valpolicella, which is instead a very ancient sweet wine. Probably already in Roman times a wine similar to Recioto was produced using dried grapes.

Yes, since 1968 it is registered as DOC wine, and since 2010 as DOCG. This means that only the wine produced within the boundaries established for Valpolicella, in compliance with the production regulations, can be labeled as Amarone.

This is the original production area of Valpolicella wines, including Amarone. It lies between the western border of Verona and the valley of the Adige River, in the territory of the municipalities of Negrar, Marano, San Pietro in Cariano, Fumane and Sant'Ambrogio di Valpolicella. Wines produced in this area can be labelled with the wording Valpolicella Classica.

This is the enlarged area allowed for the production of Valpolicella wines, including Amarone. It extends between Verona and Val Tramigna to the east, as far as the border with the production area of Soave wines. It includes Valpantena (which is a further sub-denomination), Val Squaranto, Valle di Mezzane Val d'Illasi, part of Val Tramigna.

Valpolicella Classica and extended Valpolicella are now qualitatively equivalent and you will find great wineries and prestigious wineries in both.

This is a wine making technique in which grapes, after harvesting are left for a period of time to dehydrate on racks or in boxes in order to concentrate the sugar level. It is typically used for the production of sweet wines. Drying is the base of the technique used for the production of Amarone.

Traditionally it lasted 100 days. Today it depends on the autumn weather. If it is very hot and dry, the whithering period can be shortened in order to avoid grapes to get too much dehydrated.

No. Even though it uses the appassimento technique, Amarone is a dry wine. Most of the sugars in the must are in fact transformed in alcohol which can reach very high percentages.

The minimum alcohol by volume is 14%.
The average alcohol content is between 15% and 16%.
The production regulations do not set a maximum alcohol content. However, by means of natural fermentation the alcoholic degree cannot exceed 18%. On the market you can find Amarones that get close to that limit.

The minimum aging time is 2 years. Every producer can decide to extend this period and therefore it is possible to find on the market Amarone with an aging time before bottling of even 10 years, although the average is 3-4 years for a good quality Amarone, 5-6 years for a great Riserva.

The production regulations do not specify the material of the container in which Amarone must age before bottling. Most producers use wooden barrels, mainly Slavonian or French oak. There are also those who in recent years have been experimenting with aging in terracotta, marble or simply in steel tanks.

Both are produced with the same blend of grapes.
. Amarone is a wine produced with 100% of selected and dried grapes. The wine is aged for at least 2 years before being bottled.
. Ripasso is instead produced with 100% of fresh grapes, but the wine undergoes a second short fermentation together with the pomace of Amarone. If Ripasso is classified as Valpolicella Superiore, it is aged for at least one year before bottling. If you want to know more about ripasso you can click HERE

It is a spirit made from the pomace of the grapes used for the production of Amarone. Wineries are not allowed to produce distillates themselves so normally at the end of the vinification process the marc is sent to a distillery which makes the grappa, bottles and labels it with with the special government seal required for spirits. On average, grappa has an alcohol by volume of 40% and more.

Following the international success of this wine, some foreign producers started to make wines by drying grapes. Some wrote on the label "Amarone Style". This practice is illegal because Amarone is an appellation wine protected by specific international regulations. As it happened for Champagne, for which it is forbidden to write on a classic method sparkling wine even the word "champenois", it is also not possible to make any reference to the word Amarone on the label, unless it is a wine produced in Valpolicella according to the production regulations.

Kits for home wine making are sold in North America. Inside a box there are must, ferments, oak chips, etc. Some of these kits also promise the possibility of making appellation wines such as Chianti, Barolo and Amarone. In the kits used to make the latter there is also pomace from dried grapes.
For appellation wines these kits are illegal.

Buying and storing

Amarone may seem expensive but the cost is justified by the complexity of its production process.
Only 40% of the grapes of a vineyard can be selected for the production of Amarone. Harvesting is done strictly by hand, by experienced staff.
The drying of grapes reduces by 30-40% the total volume of liquids. This increases the sugar, concentration, aromas of the wine, but greatly reduces the output quantity.
Barrel aging further reduces volume because of evaporation through wood, and immobilizes a winery's investment for years. The duration of aging has a direct proportional influence on the final price of an Amarone.

In Italian supermarkets you can find bottles for sale around 15€.
In Italian wine shops the price of a quality Amarone ranges between 25 and 40 €.
For an Amarone Riserva (selected grapes and long aging) the cost can be between 50 and 100 €.
Some selected bottles of famous and prestigious wine cellars can cost up to 200 € and more.
Prices outside Italy vary greatly depending on importer, distribution, import and sale taxes, etc.

In recent times (2020) the best vintages are 2018, 2017, 2016, but for many wineries they are still young and many have not yet bottled. The 2015 is considered a memorable vintage of the last decades.
Going further back in time there are the 2011, 2010, 2007, 2005, 2003 (very hot vintage with very full-bodied Amarones with almost caramelized notes), 2001 (very balanced), 1998.
The 1997 is another vintage almost mythological but now difficult to find. Further back there are 1995, 1990, 1988, 1983 even if these last ones begin to have a certain age and it is advisable to be cautious buying only from trustworthy dealers.

You should apply the same rules for the storage of all the great red wines.
Ideal temperature is between 11°C and 16°C. The average temperature can also be slightly higher, however it is fundamental to avoid rapid temperature changes that can ruin the wine. There should be few degrees of difference in the average temperature between winter and summer.
Humidity should be between 50% and 70% so that the cork will keep in the best conditions guaranteeing a perfect seal.
Bottles of Amarone are generally made of thick dark glass, however it is important to avoid direct exposure to light, in particular sunlight. Bottles of Amarone must be kept in absolute darkness. In case, for any reason, this is not possible, bottles should be kept in boxes made of wood or cardboard or covered with a cloth which does not allow the light through it.

If you are planning to keep an Amarone for a long time in the cellar, it is better to keep the bottle in a horizontal position. By doing so the wine is in contact with the cork and keeps it hydrated and elastic, with a perfect seal that does not allow any air inside the bottle.
If you are going to drink the wine within few months from the date of purchase, you can easily keep the bottle upright.

Valpolicella winemakers proudly say that you can easily forget Amarone in the cellar. Indeed it is one of the wines with most aging potential in the world but this can vary from cellar and also with the vintage. It is important to know well the Amarone you bought, or you received as a gift, in order to know how long you can wait before drinking it and not to risk spoiling it.
General rule is that the longer the aging time of the wine in wine in cask, the higher will be its aging potential.
Producers can release wines after minimum 2 years in cask. These short aging time is obtained with the use of225 liters barriques. In small barrells micro-oxygenation that forms the basis of the aging process is faster, but can shorten the life of the wine in the bottle. If you want to drink it at its best, an Amarone aged for about 2 years in barrique should be drunk within 10 years from the time it was released in market, that is about 13 years from the date on the label which is the year of the vintage. This is just a suggestion, a limit of absolute safety in order not to run the risk of drinking a wine which is already passed. It is not improbable that an Amarone aged in barrique, even after 10 years of aging in bottle, is still excellent.
An Amarone aged for longer periods, 5, 6 or even even 8 years, in large un-charred barrels of Slavonian oak, if correctly stored, can be opened after 15-20 years. Even in this case this is an indicative limit of absolute safety. In Valpolicella there are wineries which always used the longest traditional method of aging, that still have on the market perfectly drinkable bottles from the 60's.


When released on the market, a bottle of Amarone is usually ready to be opened. After bottling, producers let the wine rest for a period ranging from six months to more than one year in order to allow its final aging. Amarone can therefore be opened soon after its purchase or kept in cellar for some years. The more the wine ages in cellar, the more it will become smooth and will develop the so called tertiary aromas, more complex and evolved flavors.
A younger Amarone will express aromas of dried fruit, dried flowers, sweet spices, with dry tannic finish. You will still find fruity aromas, especially cherry, morello cherry, red berries typical of Corvina grape.
After 10 years of aging in bottle, Amarone will change its character, becoming smoother and velvety with hints of chocolate, tobacco, coffee, leather and softer tannins.
After 15-20 years, an Amarone develops scents that palates accustomed to old vintages might not appreciate: underwood, old wood, dried mushrooms, cigar box, turpetine. A wine aged for more than 20 years will also be extremely delicate and it should be drunk within few hours from the opening because of the rapid oxidization it usually undergoes.
It is therefore important to consider these factors when deciding how long to keep a bottle of Amarone in your cellar.

Some wine tasting guides say you need to calculate an advance of one hour for every year of aging of the wine in the bottle. If this were true, for a bottle of 1967 Amarone (one of the vintages still available on the market) it would be necessary to open the bottle more than two days before dinner! Such a long period of oxygenation is not necessary. 2 or 3 hours are usually more than enough, even for older vintages. Moreover, it should not be underestimated the pleasure of tasting a wine slowly and appreciating all the nuances of its progressive evolution, from the initial "closure" to the total "opening" with the explosion of aromas and flavors. At every sip there will be a new discovery. Pouring small quantities of Amarone little by little in a proper glass, wide and tall, and slightly swirling the wine inside, it will help the process of oxygenation.

Amarone is a very stable and limpid wine. After fermentation the wine stays for 4-6 months in large steel containers to decant before being put in aging barrels where it remains no less than 2 years, for some producers even 6-8. In this period the wine has time to settle further. Moreover, when the wine is bottled, it is filtered and therefore it will hardly produce deposits inside the bottle, even after many years in cellar. By using a decanter it is possible to reduce the time of oxygenation of an old vintage but, in any case, for Amarone it is not strictly necessary.

The serving rules for great structured and aged red wines apply: 16-18° C (60°-64° F). In case the environment where you are is very hot, such as a crowded restaurant in summertime, it is good to lower the serving temperature by some degrees. If you pour a wine at 18° C (64° F) in warm glasses in a room where it is 30° C (86° F) or more, its temperature will rapidly rise. Amarone is a very alcoholic wine, a high temperature can further enhance the perception of alcohol, making it heavy, disharmonious and not very pleasing to drink. Do not be afraid to ask for an ice bucket in which to put the bottle in case the Amarone you were served is too warm. Amarone is an expensive wine, do not ruin the pleasure of drinking it with the wrong temperature.

Large glasses should be used, with a wide opening in order to allow the nose to comfortably enter the glass while sipping. In this way it is possible to better appreciate the complexity and intensity of Amarone's aromas as well as favoring a rapid oxygenation of the wine while avoiding the use of a decanter.

Amarone is a wine with high alcohol content, complexity and body to be matched with equally structured dishes. Traditional matchings are braised and roasted meat with tasty gravy, game or aged cheese. Mature Amarone tends to be softer and more velvety and therefore more versatile in the matching. They can be drunk with tasty first courses and juicy meats even if less elaborated. Old vintages or special reserves can be perfect meditation wines, that is to be drunk without matching any food, just for the pleasure of appreciating all the nuances of its complexity.

Visiting an Amarone winery

Valpolicella 30' drive from Verona city, Veneto region, Italy.

Wineries are always available for visits with tasting, but the best period is surely autumn when it is possible to see wineries lofts with drying grapes and the cellars in full activity.

In many wineries there is always staff available to welcome visitors. However it is always advisable to book in advance in order to be sure they are not busy with other visitors or with activities in the vineyard or winery.

It can vary according to the winery but usually it is around 45'-1h and includes walk in the vineyard, visit to drying loft and barrels cellar and tasting.

It can vary according to the winery. For most of wineries it is around 10-15€ per person for 4-5 wines including at least one Amarone. In some more prestigious wineries it can be 20-30 euros per person or more and it depends on the wines selected for tasting.

Yes, it is not necessary to be a group, the visit with tasting can also be done if you are alone or with your partner.

The tour is suitable for everyone, experts and beginners. The level of in-depth information will be tailored according to the knowledge of the guests. Whether you are a wine expert or a simple enthusiast, a tour in the wineries of Valpolicella where Amarone is produced will offer you the possibility to deepen your knowledge about this extraordinary wine.

In Valpolicella's wineries you will have the chance to talk directly with the ones who make wine, from the vineyard to the bottle, satisfying all your curiosity and maybe discovering some secrets of production. Do not hesitate to contact Veronissima's tour guides in order to plan your guided tour in Valpolicella.

Info and bookings:

+39 333 2199 645 P.I. 03616420232 C.F. CPPMHL74L13L781C