Fellow wine lovers,
Today I am very excited to be sharing one of my favourite wines styles with you. I often forget about it, but today’s bottle has served as a delicious reminder.
Ripasso wines are made in the Veneto region, which is the area in northeastern Italy between Verona and Venice.
The first step in making ripasso wines is making a valpolicella. This table wine is made from three Italian grapes: corvina, rondinella and molinara.
The second step involves another wine called amarone. Amarone is made with the same grapes, however these grapes have been dried in a process called apassimento, whereby they are dried in the heat of the end of the summer, traditionally on straw mats.
This process dries out the water and concentrates the amount of sugar in the grapes, which then yields a higher alcohol content during fermentation. Amarone is the wine created using these dried grapes, and is the crème de la crème of Italian wines. However, these bottles go for $30 and up, so are not always the most affordable choice. Ripassos (meaning re-passed), however, are a happy medium between the everyday valpolicella wines and the exhorbitantly priced amarones.
Ripasso is made by running valpolicella wines through the rich leftover amarone skins. This process adds body, texture and rich flavours to the valpolicella and makes for a consistently beautiful wine.
Last Saturday night I made my special lasagna. It is special because I’ve adapted the recipe over time to meet my husband’s non-dairy needs. Instead of ricotta, I make my own tofu ricotta and I replace regular mozzarella with President’s Choice goat mozzarella. It’s pretty darned good, if I do say so myself. Because it was Saturday night and we didn’t have any other plans, I decided to choose a nice wine to accompany the meal. A standard rule of thumb for wine and food pairing is to go by geography, so for the lasagna, I decided to open the only bottle of Italian wine I had in the house: you guessed it, a ripasso.
This medium ruby red was full of cherry, blackberry, raisin (from the amarone skins), cedar and menthol. On the palate, the first thing I noticed was a juicy, mouthwatering acidity that makes you want to drink more! This wine is medium bodied and surprisingly light in tannins. It’s got really nice fruit flavours like fresh respberry, blueberry, blackberry and cherry, and is also heavy on the dried fruit (raisin and fig) as well as some nice refreshing mint. It finishes off with a lovely medium-long cherry finish.
In conclusion, drink ripasso. This particular one, although much lighter than the benchmark ripasso, went extremely well with my lasagna. Sometimes goat cheese does funny things with red wines, particularly tannic ones, but this Farina ripasso’s medium body and fruit-forward character, not to mention high acidity, made it a perfect match. Don’t forget, wines with high acidity are great food wines, so this guy is a great food-friendly candidate that would make a great contribution to dinner parties. Plus now you have lots of fun ripasso facts to share with the other guests! And did I mention the price? In the valpolicella diagram above you will notice that the price range for ripasso starts at $20, so this one is a steal at $15.90!
BONUS: Again, I am ahead of the curve. This ripasso is now on sale at the LCBO until February 3 for $11.90!! That is a $4 savings! I tried to pick up a few bottles at my local store tonight but they said a guy had come in and bought their last 100 bottles earlier (!!). I guess that means I need to scour the city tomorrow for a case! The race is on folks. Get ’em while they’re hot! (I hope all the exclamation marks properly express the urgency of the situation).
Happy weekend and happy wining!