My Summer Red: Valpolicella

Tommasi Rafael Valpolicella. This was really good chilled.

Remember Valpolicella? Don’t turn your nose up so fast! Find a good one, and you’ll have a terrific summer wine that tastes great chilled.       

If you were of drinking age in the 80s, chances are, you drank Valpolicella at some point. It was the quintessential fruity, light, easy-drinking red that many of us enjoyed with pizza and pasta before we graduated to drier reds, like Chianti.

Sadly, most Valpolicellas were not very good at all. Famed wine writer Robert Parker once deemed them “industrial, insipid garbage.”

In this century, that has changed. In 2009, New York Times wine-writer Eric Asimov wrote, “The winemaking renaissance that has occurred throughout Italy…has also come to Valpolicella. With new seriousness of purpose, many producers have rededicated themselves to [the wine].”

Because Valpolicella tastes great chilled, summer is a great time to rediscover this red. I recently tried the Tommasi Rafael Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2014 ($20), and immediately got back on the Valpolicella bandwagon. The hints of spice amidst luscious cherry flavors bring a touch of refreshment, and its medium body helps it stand up to the hearty barbecue foods. And forget what everyone says about serving this “lightly” chilled. Chill this baby completely—once you take the bottle outside, it will warm a bit to perfect drinking temperature.

Sadly, I tried another Valpolicella recently, and it tasted like a mediocre Beaujolais Nouveau (you know, that grape bubble-gummy flavor that inferior versions sometime have?). So the moral of this aside: Not all Valpolicellas are as good as the Rafael. I suggest either finding the Rafael, or heading to a wine-seller that will had-pick a good one for you.

And if you want to help your Valpolicella-seeking wine-loving friends out this summer, please tell us about your faves! Thanks!

Disclosure: I received this wine as a sample for review. Rest assured, I would never recommend anything I wouldn’t buy myself!






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2 comments to My Summer Red: Valpolicella

  • Rick

    I wish you’d let us know which Valpolicella you didn’t like….so we might avoid it. Thanks.

    • Wini

      It was the Allegrini Valpolicella. Ironically, it had received some good reviews from Robert Parker in past years….but whatever my wine-seller was selling this summer wasn’t very good at all. I poured most of it out!

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