Corvina is a variety of red wine grapes from the Veneto wine region of northeastern Italy, the same area that produces Prosecco and Soave. Also called Corvina Veronese after the nearby city of Verona, winemakers commonly blend Corvina wines with others from the region. On its own, Corvina has distinctive sour cherry tartness, high levels of acidity, and hints of almond, all of which add character and complexity. It is most popularly used as a component of Valpolicella wines, where it is blended with Rondinella and Molinara. Winemakers also blend Corvina with these and other grapes to make Bardolino, which gets its name from the nearby town on scenic Lake Garda.
Corvina grapes have high acidity, low tannins, and offer very little color. They are also a late-ripening grape, which can pose a challenge to winemakers. Fortunately, their small berries have thick skins. This makes them perfect for air-drying, a process that concentrates sweetness and flavors.
Valpolicella lies east of Lake Garda and is second only to Chianti in total Italian DOC wine production. Most Valpolicella wines are reds that contain some amount of Corvina, though most are blends with Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara. Some are young, light, and fragrant, making ideal table wines. They’re bright, tangy, and fruity, with distinctive sour cherry notes. When winemakers use partly dried skins to intensify the flavors and render Valpolicellas more complex, these are called ripasso.
Bardolino is also a blend of Corvina and Rondinella, though these wines have a smaller proportion of Corvina. Rondinella has a more neutral flavor, but the wines are still bright and fruity thanks to the sunniness and cool temperatures of the area. Bardolino wines may also have up to 20% Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marzemino, Merlot, and Sangiovese. Like typical Corvina wines, they are herbaceous with aromas of sour cherry.
Amarone and Recioto della Valpolicella
Corvina grapes put through the air-drying process (apassimento) are used to make Amarone della Valpolicella. Traditionally, winemakers dried the grapes on straw mats after harvest. These days, many use special drying chambers instead to control the conditions better. After drying, crushed grapes go through a low-temperature fermentation process followed by aging in barriques. Longer fermentation results in Amarone, which is a gorgeously rich, Italian dry red wine. If the winemaker stops fermentation while there are still sugars, it produces sweet Recioto della Valpolicella.
Corvina Wine Pairings
The brightness of Corvina wines make them wonderful for offsetting rich and fatty dishes. They also pair well with antipasti, roasted meats, and pastas in red sauces. We love them with fresh bruschetta.
Amarone tends to develop richer flavors, with notes of chocolate, raisins, and figs. Walnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are a classic after dinner pairing with this wine.
As you might expect, Recioto della Valpolicella pairs beautifully with desserts, especially those with dried fruits, dark chocolate, and coffee.
Care and Handling
Typical Valpolicella and Bordolino wines typically age well from 5-10 years, though Amarone and Recioto della Valpolicella may be aged much longer.
As always, we recommend decanting these red wines to aerate them. You should also use a proper red wine glass that will allow the bowl to collect aromas. Ideal serving temperatures for Corvina wines are between 55–60°F (13–16°C).