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passito wine from the Veneto

Legend has it that Amarone was invented when a winemaker making Recioto forgot all about it once it started fermenting. Rather than stopping the fermentation for a sweet wine, it kept going until all the sugar converted to alcohol. Hence Amarone, the 'big bitter'—a rare, non-sweet passito or 'straw' wine. Rich, ripe, raisiny with a savoury notes, packed full of taste and alcohol (the legal minimum is 14%), it is generally put on the market five years can be aged for 40 years or more—and can cost a fortune. It's been DOC since 1990, and DOCG since 2009.

Also see Ripasso, made in part from the grape skins left after pressing Amarone.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Don LaVange