What Is Ripasso Wine? The Robust Italian Red

Ripasso, a term that resonates with a sense of both innovation and tradition in the Italian wine world, is a fascinating process that results in wines of unique character and depth. Originating from the Valpolicella region in the Veneto area of Italy, the term “Ripasso” literally means “repassed” and is a method of adding complexity, body, and flavor to Valpolicella wines. Let’s unravel the story behind Ripasso.

The Ripasso Technique: A Second Fermentation

  1. Basic Valpolicella: The process starts with a basic Valpolicella wine, which is light, fresh, and fruity. This wine is already enjoyable in its own right, but the Ripasso method takes it to another level.
  2. “Repassing” Over Amarone Lees: The magic of Ripasso happens when this Valpolicella wine is reintroduced to the skins and lees (residual yeast and grape particles) left over from the fermentation of Amarone or Recioto wines. These skins are rich in sugar, flavor, and tannins.
  3. Secondary Fermentation: The Valpolicella undergoes a second fermentation when it comes into contact with these leftovers. This process not only increases the alcohol content and body of the wine but also imparts additional flavors and complexity.

The Result: A Harmonious Blend of Flavors

Ripasso wines are often described as a middle ground between the lightness of Valpolicella and the intensity of Amarone. They typically have more body, structure, and alcoholic strength than Valpolicella but are more approachable and less intense than Amarone. Expect flavors like dark cherries, dried fruits, spices, and sometimes a hint of chocolate or tobacco.

Why Choose a Ripasso?

  1. Complexity and Depth: Ripasso wines offer a more complex and layered experience than a standard Valpolicella, making them excellent for those who enjoy a more intricate wine profile.
  2. Versatility in Pairing: These wines can pair beautifully with a wide range of foods, from hearty pastas and risottos to grilled meats and aged cheeses.
  3. Value: Ripasso wines often provide great value, offering some of the richness and complexity of an Amarone at a more accessible price point.

Ripasso is not just a winemaking technique; it’s a beautiful narrative of how innovation can intertwine with tradition. It offers wine lovers a distinctive experience, combining the freshness of Valpolicella with the depth and complexity of Amarone. Whether you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast or new to Italian wines, Ripasso provides a fascinating and delicious exploration into the heart of Valpolicella’s winemaking heritage.

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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.

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