In a dictionary of synonyms, the word “Verona” should be coupled with the word “wine”. We the people of Verona are introduced to it from a young age, and the fact that Verona is the leading Italian province in terms of wine production makes us particularly proud. Granted, there are so many producers and varieties that when ordering a bottle at a restaurant one can feel a little lost. So where do you start making sense of it all?
Probably from Valpolicella. It is our most popular wine – strictly red and the one we most identify with, though there are many other famous wines from Verona, such as Soave or Bardolino. Valpolicella is named after the hills northwest of the town, where its grapes are grown (though, over time, its production area has expanded). But it is not sufficient to say “Valpolicella”, because there are many variants of it.
Until a few decades ago, it was all easier. I clearly remember that my grandfather, a small Valpolicella wine producer like many others, at most made two kinds of wine: the “Classico” and the “Recioto”. The former was the everyday wine, light, which accompanied meals, but which could be drunk at any time of the day. The latter was the wine for special occasions: surely, my family opened a bottle of it in my honor when I was born. It is one of the very rare sweet red wines and is made with a special and complex grape drying technique.
These days, the situation is very different, more varied and complex: even I discover new types of Valpolicella every day. The king of Valpolicella wines, which in the last few years has enjoyed incredible international success, is undoubtedly Amarone. Made with the same technique as Recioto, it has a slightly bitter aftertaste (as its name suggests) and is a strong, structured, complex wine that rivals the best Chianti and Barolo bottles, in terms of price too. It is the wine I put on the table when I have friends for dinner and I want to impress them.
But there is more. In fact, with the evolution of production techniques, in the last few years new Valpolicella varieties have emerged. For example, there is Valpolicella “Superiore”, an evolution of “Classico”: many order it thinking that its quality is superior too, but actually the only difference is that it is aged in oak barrels. Another quite well known variety is “Ripasso”, a Valpolicella Classico that has been left to rest in the grape marc of Amarone.
Talking about wine has made me thirsty… If I have to buy a bottle to go out to dinner or a party, I often visit the Dal Zovo wine shop in Viale della Repubblica, a sort of secular temple for wine lovers, which offers a variety and quality probably unrivaled. If, instead, I want to try something new, I stop at SignorVino in Corso di Porta Nuova. This place has less well known wines which, perhaps precisely because of this, are all there to be discovered. Cheers!