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The king of red wines. Or queen. Monarch. Pinnacle. Peak. Highest point. Whatever. You get the picture. A great big bold red.

Amarone comes from the Veneto region of Italy. It's made by drying grapes on racks for a few weeks, or longer, which concentrates their flavour. This gives Amarone its characteristic dark purplish colour, excellent legs, and (hallelujah!) high alcohol content. 1990, 1995, 1997, and apparently 2000 are all great (recent) vintages for Amarone.

Legs, in case you're wondering, refers to the ribbons of wine visibly descending down the side of your wine glass after you've tipped the glass to your lips, taken a heavenly sip, and then returned the glass to an upright position. Cheap anemic wine will just subside to a level position, but a thick and jammy wine like Amarone will leave the aforementioned ribbons slowly sliding down. Legs are a sign of a good wine.

While Amarone would be delicious imbibed from a jam jar, a good quality leaded, balloon-shaped wine glass will heighten your drinking pleasure. Invest in a good pair so you and your sweetie can toast your good taste together. We bought expensive wine glasses from the scion of the wine glass world, Reidel. They recommend a large balloon with a relatively closed mouth to concentrate the heady aroma of the wine. While I've always loved my Amarone, drinking it from these glasses heightens the experience even further.

Amarone is not cheap, but it's worth every hard-earned penny. It's delicious.

Amarone wine comes specifically from a part of northern Italy just south of the the Dolomite Mountains called Valpolicella meaning "the valley of many cellars". Frequently you will see Amarone della'Valpolicella on the labels.

Some winemakers will only use grapes from the center of the bunch while others will use the entire harvest; the former clearly being a more expensive variety. The grapes are harvested in October and dried until late December or early January.

In some cellars a mold is allowed to grow on the grapes. This acts as a drying "clock" in that the vintner knows the drying is completed when all grapes are completely covered with the mold. Also, the winemakers claim this reduces tannin content and gives the wine even more "leg".

It is consistently the best wine that I have tried with the best and longest of finishes. Note that some finishes are long and not so good. Thomas Harris, the author of the Hannibal Lecter novels, writes that it is a favorite of Lector's and presumably his.

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