Corvina: The Red Jewel of Veneto

Immerse yourself in the world of Corvina, the leading grape variety in the red wines of Italy’s Veneto region. Known for its significant role in wines such as Valpolicella and Amarone, Corvina is celebrated for its bright red fruit characteristics, moderate acidity, and its ability to produce wines with a wide range of body and complexity.

A Brief History

The Corvina grape, also known as Corvina Veronese, traces its roots back to the Veneto region in northeast Italy, where it has been grown since the Roman era. The name Corvina comes from “corvo,” the Italian word for crow, supposedly due to the dark color of the grapes resembling the crow’s feathers. Despite its historical significance, Corvina has primarily been a local treasure until the global recognition of Amarone della Valpolicella in the late 20th century spotlighted the grape’s potential.


Corvina is a late-ripening variety that thrives in the hillside vineyards of Veneto. It tends to produce wines with moderate to high acidity and low to moderate tannins, often characterized by a sour cherry note. Corvina is also known for its ability to withstand the appassimento process, where grapes are dried to concentrate flavors and sugars before fermentation, a technique used in producing Amarone.

Flavour Profile

The flavor profile of Corvina-based wines largely depends on the winemaking technique. Basic Valpolicella wines typically showcase light to medium body, bright cherry flavors, and floral notes. Ripasso wines, re-fermented on the lees, add complexity, with notes of dried fruit, spice, and a touch of earthiness. Amarone wines, made from dried grapes, offer a full-bodied, complex experience with intense flavors of dried cherry, fig, chocolate, and sometimes a bitter almond note on the finish.

Different Styles of Wine

Corvina is the star in several different styles of wine, including Valpolicella, Ripasso, Amarone, and Recioto della Valpolicella. Valpolicella wines range from the light, fruity Valpolicella Classico to the richer, more substantial Valpolicella Superiore. Ripasso, also known as Valpolicella Ripasso, is a more concentrated and complex wine. Amarone della Valpolicella is a full-bodied, powerful, and often high-alcohol wine, while Recioto is a sweet, dessert-style wine.

Wine Making and Maturation Options

The most distinctive winemaking method associated with Corvina is the traditional appassimento process, used to make Amarone and Recioto wines. This involves partially drying the grapes before fermentation to concentrate sugars and flavors. Ripasso wines involve a second fermentation where the solid remains of grapes left from Amarone and Recioto production are added to the Valpolicella wine for a period of extended maceration, enhancing complexity and depth. Maturation in oak is common for Amarone and Ripasso styles, adding tannic structure and flavors of vanilla and spice.

Important Regions

The key region for Corvina is Veneto in northeastern Italy, particularly in the Valpolicella and Bardolino DOC regions. Within Valpolicella, certain areas such as Valpantena and the Classico zone, which includes the renowned vineyards of Fumane, Marano, Negrar, and Sant’Ambrogio, are particularly esteemed for their Corvina production.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Corvina-based wines pair well with a variety of dishes. Valpolicella Classico complements antipasti, pasta dishes, and light poultry, while Valpolicella Superiore and Ripasso styles match well with hearty stews, game, and grilled or roasted meats. The richness and intensity of Amarone della Valpolicella make it a perfect pairing for richly flavored dishes, aged cheeses, and even dark chocolate. Recioto, with its sweet profile, serves as a delightful accompaniment to blue cheese, foie gras, or desserts featuring dark fruits and chocolate.

The journey into the world of Corvina unfolds the rich tapestry of Venetian winemaking, ranging from the delightful simplicity of Valpolicella Classico to the bold opulence of Amarone. Its versatility, coupled with the winemaking traditions of the Veneto region, creates a remarkable palette of expressions that continue to captivate wine lovers around the globe.

Take a quiz to test your knowledge

Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

Wine Sections

Tasting and Enjoying Wine | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

Tasting & Enjoying Wine

Understanding Wine Making | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

Understanding Wine Making

Understanding Wine Regions | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

Understanding Wine Regions

Understanding Grape Varieties | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

Understanding Grape Varieties

Understanding Wine Labels | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

Understanding Wine Labels

The Wines of the World | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

The Wines of the World

Wine Trends & Technology | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

Wine Trends & Technology

Wine and Food Pairing | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

My Wine Adventures

Wine & Food Diary | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

Wine and Food Pairing

Wine Reviews | Bernard Marr | Wine Cellar

Wine Reviews

Some of my most memorable wines