“I think you've got to keep it simple, keep it fresh. Stay away from all that processed stuff, read the labels.”…..  Emeril Lagasse

Learning languages – even a few words from different tongues – staves off brain aging. If you’re 21, you probably don’t care. But if you’re 50, you should – so here’s today’s word to learn: APPASSIMENTO. It’s Italian and it appears on some wine labels.

When you see that word on a wine label, expect a full-bodied wine. It means the grapes have been dried (traditionally) on bamboo or straw mats for several weeks or even months. This process (Appassimento) concentrates the sugars and flavors (relax – it doesn’t mean the wine is sweet unless you see the word “Passito” on the label).  With all that loss of water inside the grapes, being dried,  the grapes become raisinated and that concentrates flavor.

The famous Amarone della Valpolicella is always Appassimento. It is delicious, but expensive (labor intensive & costly to produce as it takes many more dried grapes to produce a wine). There is also what people call “Baby Amarone”, correctly known as Valpolicella Ripasso. These wines still use raisinated grapes but the pomace (leftover grape skins) is used for the second fermentation. Given restaurant markups, this is the wine I look for in Italian restaurants. Good and not as expensive as a true Amarone.

Many Italian producers employ the Appassimento method throughout Italy. It is not limited by grape varietal.  It is not restricted to the Valpolicella region within Veneto.  While Amarone (the most famous example) is from Veneto and always uses the Corvina and Rondinella grapes, this Massaro Del Fondo is from Puglia (far to the south of Veneto in Italy; an area better known for its Negroamaro and Primitivo (think Zinfandel) grapes. In fact, this Massaro Del Fondo is made from Primitivo grapes.

But today, we’re talking not so much about wine or even producers as we are about words on the label. The process is the point. And the point is that you want wines (even if you don’t know that you do) made via Appassimento. This bottle, with a ridiculous ARP of $18, will reward with deep, deep layers of plum and ripe red fruit and delicate spicy scents; no heat, easy to enjoy.

Why so much assurance? Appassimento! Learn the word.

For information on another wine from Veneto made via the same method but from different grapes and not an Amarone, see

In fairness to chef Lagasse, his quote relates to food, not wine, though the two work hand-in-hand as your right and your left.  Read these posts and I guarantee you’ll never be confused again by a similar label from Italy and you’ll be able to order these wines as appropriate and with confidence in restaurants.
……………… Jim

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