Last Saturday my good friends, Sandie and Bob Trevathan, asked me to join them for dinner with their niece, Cassie, who just recently turned 21. I brought Cassie a bottle of bubbly Moscato D’Asti, thinking young women usually gravitate towards the sweeter wines. I quickly learned that Cassie’s palate is a bit more sophisticated. Her favorite wine is a dry, spicy red!
So, at dinner when asked to select a bottle of wine, I was determined to correct my misconception and chose a wine that was a better match for this birthday girl. Since we were dining on everything from beef to seafood to pasta, I decided on a red with fewer tannins. And there it was on the menu – a Valpolicella!
Valpolicella is a wine region in the northeastern part of Italy in the Veneto region. It is a blended red wine with, well, many grape varietals. The Corvina grape is predominant (sometimes up to 70% of the mix). Other grapes are Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta, Negrara, Molinara and Dindarella. And the wines can also contain up to five percent of other red grape varietals. Got that?
Lots of room for variation of taste and flavor. Add to that a Valpolicella wine can also be made in a technique called ripasso, which means passed through again. Here the regular Valpolicella wine is added to a cask containing the skins and lees left over from Amarone wines. Then it goes through a second fermentation. The result is a richer, more complex wine.
The Capitel San Rocco Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore (meaning a higher alcohol level) was terrific! A beautiful ruby red color, good acidity, low tannins and yes, spicy! At an average price of $22 at a retail store, it’s a winner.