Wine pros | The best food matches for Amarone

Wine pros

The best food matches for Amarone

A recent lunch* and discussion hosted by Masi at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner gave a revealing glimpse of what the best food pairings for amarone might be.

It also highlighted - as with many wines - that there is more than one style. It was fascinating how the Masi range had evolved from the 1990s to the present day - the most recent vintages seeming lighter and more elegant than the traditional robust style. ‘Light’ might seem an odd word to use in conjunction with a 15% plus wine but it’s a question of balance or how it feels in the mouth. Today’s amarone - well Masi’s at any rate - wears its alcohol lightly - a deliberate move, it seems, to bring it more in tune with contemporary, particularly Asian cuisine. And it’s not a tannic wine.

Of course there’s amarone and amarone. According to Sandro Boscaini, over 50% of amarone is now produced by co-ops creating a downward pressure on prices that is worrying for traditional producers like Masi who still use the expensive, time-consuming technique of drying grapes on bamboo mats (many other producers now use plastic and dry the grapes for a much shorter time).

Some of the more traditional food pairings obviously date from a time when amarone was considerably cheaper than it is now. They include, according to the recently published Amarone by Kate Singleton*, rustic stews - some made with amarone, sweet-tasting meats like horsemeat and strong cheeses.

And Boscaini’s favourite pairing? “Take a bite-sized fragment of parmesan cheese and a teaspoon of acacia honey, pop them both in your mouth, and chew them to savour the taste then take a sip of amarone and enjoy the resulting harmonies.”

My suggestions for amarone:

Traditional pairings from the region

Risotto all’amarone (a favourite of the River Café)

Beef braised in amarone

Pastisade de caval (horsemeat stew)

Tripe

Strong cheeses including mature parmegiano reggiano (parmesan), Ubriaco all’Amarone (cheese matured in amarone grape must), Gorgonzola and Erborinato Veja (another blue cheese)

Other good matches

Braised ox or veal cheek and oxtail

Braised beef short-ribs

Pigeon (squab) - which is what we had at Heston’s Dinner (above) though you might want to skip the artichokes which are always tricky with red wine

Duck cooked in balsamic vinegar (balsamic chimes in well with amarone)

Grouse

Wagyu beef

Wild boar

Venison

Reindeer and elk (amarone is apparently popular in Scandinavia)

Strongly flavoured rare breed lamb, especially slow-cooked

Robust pasta dishes, e.g. with hare sauce (pappardelle alla lepre)

Fish is not normally suggested as a pairing for amarone but, according to Singleton's book, sommelier Kazuo Naito recommends it with anago con nitsume, stewed eel cooked in a sweet soy sauce with some wasabi to refresh the palate. In fact it seems to be the soy sauce that’s the key. Naito also recommends it with chicken teriyaki and spiced chicken livers in soy sauce.

See also this account of a meal in Verona earlier this year with Bertani.

* This book is sponsored by Masi. I also ate at Dinner as their guest. This lunch took place in 2013

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Comments: 2 (Add)

Fiona Beckett on March 28 2014 at 07:55

Depends how adventurous your guests are! But yes, plenty of ideas here. Do tell me how the meal goes

Teegan on March 28 2014 at 03:09

I am excited to try the Amarone my friend just bought. We are going to have a great dinner with it and this article helps to know what to prepare for dinner. I really am leaning towards the eel or some other Chinese dish flavored with soy sauce. Sounds like an exquisite dinner!

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