Updated September 25th 2023
Amarone, one of the most iconic Italian wines, pairs well with a wide range of foods. Great food pairings include meaty dishes, pasta, risotto, cheese, and many more. This wine guide will help you find the best food pairings for Amarone.
Amarone is an intense, complex Italian wine full of fruit aromas. Amarone food pairing can be challenging, as it is important to take into consideration the many characteristics of this special wine. Thanks to its rich character, high-alcohol content and fruitiness, Amarone pairs well with heavy stews and rich foods. There are also some more surprising food pairings with this Italian wine, and also some dishes to avoid.
Before we look into the best dishes for Amarone, let’s take a closer look at the wine itself to better understand how to pair it with food.
Amarone is made in Valpolicella, located in the Veneto region, in north-east Italy. It is made using partially-dried grapes, a method called appassimento. The dried grapes give Amarone its special character. This method gives an increased concentration of flavors, which is one of the success factors behind the world famous Amarone della Valpolicella. The grapes are harvested in the beginning of October, then they are dried until they become almost raisins. The drying process takes about 120 days and then the dried grapes are made into a rich, full-bodied wine with lots of fruit aromas.
Amarone means “great bitter” in Italian. The name was created to distinguish the wine from Recioto, a wine produced in the same wine region. Recioto wine is made in a sweet style, while Amarone is a dry wine.
Fun fact: Amarone was first produced in the 1950s. The production method is more than 2000 years old, but the dry version of this wine, Amarone, has only been produced since the 1950s. Before that, wine from Valpolicella was sweet and called Recioto.
Amarone is a blend, not a grape variety. The grapes used to make Amarone are mainly Corvina (45-95% depending on the producer). Corvinone and Rondinella grapes are also used in the blend.
Like any other wine, Amarone can be made into different styles. It is common to make the distinction between the traditional and modern styles.
Amarone is a full-bodied, dry red wine with complex aromas of ripe fruit, spices and earth. Amarone is made of dried grapes, which give it an illusion of sweetness, but is actually a dry wine.
The characteristic aromas of Amarone are fig, cinnamon, plum, raisins, chocolate and dark cherry. The wine is aged in wood for a minimum of two years, but does not have a lot of typical oak aromas due to its strong fruit flavors. Some producers choose to use smaller, new oak barrels for a more distinct influence of the oak on the aroma and texture of the wine. Amarone wines with this type of oak can have notes of caramel, leather, dried fruits, coffee and nuts, in addition to the fruit aromas.
The alcohol level in Amarone is relatively high, often around 15.5-17%. Tannin levels are high, but balanced due to the ageing in oak.
Amarone wines are usually described as velvety, smooth, fruity, warm, full-bodied and complex. Does it sound good? Let’s look into how to pair Amarone with food.
Amarone is one of Italy's most powerful and iconic red wines, yet pairing Amarone with food can be challenging. The complexity of the wine can make it difficult to match with food, but it's definitely not impossible. When Amarone is paired with the right food, it becomes even more amazing. The rule is to match it with rich foods that stand up to the powerful wine.
In order to find the best food for your bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella, you need to take into consideration the following characteristics of the wine:
Amarone is best served at a temperature of 17-19°C (63-66°F).
Tips! Amarone wines may be stored and aged up to 20 years. It is advisable to decant Amarone for at least one hour before drinking it. By decanting, the wine's residues will be separated, and the wine will open up to its maximum expression.
Let’s set it straight from the beginning: Amarone is a great wine to pair with meat. This strong, full-bodied wine, with its fruity profile and high alcohol, will be an excellent pairing to game meat, beef, lamb and slow-cooked meat dishes. In fact, most meat dishes will pair well with Amarone. The juiciness of the meat will match well the fruit and the tannins of the wine.
Great meat dishes with Amarone are:
Tips! The spicy profile of Amarone makes it a good choice for BBQ food. In our BBQ guide you can read more about other good wine pairings with BBQ food.
Pairing wine with traditional dishes from the region where it is made is usually a good idea. Amarone pairs well with several dishes from Veneto, but also with other more famous Italian dishes.
Try Amarone with one of these traditional dishes from Veneto:
Amarone and Italian food is a match made in heaven. You can pair Amarone with dishes from other Italian regions:
Amarone wines, especially in the traditional style, pair very well with different types of poultry. Amarone and turkey for Thanksgiving is a popular match. The fruitiness in the wine will pair well with the turkey and the typical side dishes served for Thanksgiving.
Good poultry pairings with Amarone are:
Cheese pairing with Amarone can be a challenge if you don’t take into consideration the intense flavors and the high alcohol of the wine. Amarone is a strong wine that is best matched with an equally intense cheese.
Good cheese pairings for Amarone are:
Tips! Avoid light and delicate cheeses, as they will likely be overpowered by the wine. Take a look at our wine and cheese pairing guide to find the best wine for different types of cheeses.
Amarone is not the typical wine for appetisers, as it is quite powerful and intense. Nevertheless, there are many occasions when you may want to serve snacks or finger foods to your Amarone.
Good snacks for Amarone are:
Amarone is too strong for most fish dishes and usually not a good pairing. If you really wish to serve Amarone with fish, we suggest you look for a lighter style of Amarone and serve it with a heavy fish dish. Tuna steak or a fatty fish in Amarone sauce can work. Also, eel with a sweet sauce is an option.
Tips! Avoid serving Amarone with salmon, boiled fish and fried fish as the wine will overpower the food completely.
Amarone can be paired with rich, heavy vegetarian dishes. The classic vegetarian food pairing with Amarone is Melanzane di Parmigiana, which is a baked eggplant layered with cheese and tomato sauce.
Other vegetarian dishes that pair well with Amarone are:
Tips! Avoid any type of salad or light soups, such as minestrone soup. The bitterness of the vegetables will clash with the complex structure of Amarone.
Amarone is not always a great choice for desserts as it is a dry wine. Sweet desserts require an equally sweet wine. There are some exceptions to the rule. Amarone and chocolate can be a good pairing. Amarone means “great bitter” and is actually a good match to dark chocolate.
Tips! Avoid sweet chocolate desserts and go for really dark, bitter chocolate.
Enjoy your food and bottle of Amarone!