Valentine’s Day generally means sweet treats and this extends to wine. Matthias Breitsameter presents a vintage that’s not as famous as German sweet or French Sauterne; in fact it’s a secret tip from City Savvy’s sommelier.
Whether you’re dressed up to the nines in one of the city’s romantic restaurants, watching romantic comedies or even indulging in a solitary romantic read, I recommend that you finish your evening with a delicious red. Whilst Italy is generally known for its dry or sparkling wines, there are some lovely sweet ones to be found on the peninsula. Our choice for February comes from a well-known region in north Italy, Veneto; home to the vineyard regions of Soave, Prosecco and Valpolicella. It’s the latter that holds our hidden gem: the Recioto, the lowest produced of all wines in the region and a real rarity: perfect for that special occasion.
In this region, the most common grape variety is Corvina; it has the best personal character and is the most planted red grape, outnumbering the other varieties: the Rodinella (more neutral), the Molinara (high acidic content) and the lesser known Negrara, Barbera or Sangiovese. It’s the first 3 varieties that go into making Amarone, Ripasso and our highlight, Recioto wine.
Romantic as it sounds, Recioto gets its names from the Italian slang word for ‘ears’ (orecchio). In the original production, only the outside grapes on the cluster (the ears) were picked since they had the most ripeness and direct sun. Nowadays, the whole bunch is picked for the production; they are dried on straw mats, a process called appassimento in Italian and then fermented and oak barrel aged. The fermentation is arrested prematurely to keep the freshness and the fruit characters in the wine and to keep the sweetness, which can reach up to 250 grammes of sugar per litre; meanwhile the alcohol is kept to only 12%.
This is a delicious sweet red wine and is recommended to drink with chocolate, desserts or mild blue cheeses like Gorgonzola dolce or Bavaria Blue.
The drinking temperature should be slightly chilled (about 14 to 16°C); in other words, pop it in the fridge about an hour before consumption. I recommend chocolate mousse as the ultimate combination, which will melt in your mouth and give you a taste explosion (although I take no responsibility for the consequences that may occur, be it engagement ring or crib).
To buy this beauty in Luxembourg, one has to go to a specialist wine shop since it’s rare; but all good wine-sellers will know of it. I have found one specific stockist that I recommend you go to – it has the wine at a bargain price for this complexity of wine:
Shop: Enoteco Italiana, 11, rue J.P. Bicheler, L-3897 Foetz
Name of wine: Recioto della Valpolicella
Grape varieties: Corvina, Rondinella
Producer: La Costa Zecchini
Alcohol: 14% ABV