Written by: Tim Edison

Updated on: August 24, 2020

What is Ripasso?

Check out our complete guide to Ripasso wine. Learn about its history, where it's grown, its distinguishing features, and what sets it apart from other varieties. 

Ripasso Valpolicella wine

Every wine variety has a rich story behind it, and Ripasso is no exception to the rule.

Grown in the iconic Valpolicella vineyards of Verona, Ripasso wine is just one of several vintages made from grapes in this region.

With a rich history and a great reputation in Italy and beyond, Valpolicella grapes is an essential part of wine culture the world over.

We’ve created a guide to one of its most popular subtypes, Ripasso, including a quick overview of the Valpolicella wine and the Veneto region’s history, how it’s made, as well as the wine’s characteristics and how its drunk.

If you want to learn more about this unique wine, read on to find out everything you need to know.

A Brief History of Ripasso Valpolicella

Wine has been grown in the Veneto region of Italy for thousands of years - since as far back as 800 B.C.

The Valpolicella grape is known for the sweet red wines it produces, as well as its potential for use in re-passed varieties (more on this later). Wine was an important trading product throughout the centuries.

Valpolicella vineyard

When Ripasso was first created, it was deemed by some a ‘poor man’s Amarone’, which was the most popular sweet wine the region was known for.

Ripasso, originally merely a name for the process used to make it, has since become a name for wine in its own right in 2007.

Today, it is a popular choice for buyers looking for tasty Italian wine at a reasonable price.

Recommended: Here is our list of the 5 best Red Blend wines.

How Is Ripasso Made?

Ripasso is a style of Valpolicella wine, which is grown in the eponymous region in Verona, Italy.

Classic Valpolicella is made up of three different grape varieties grown in this area.

As well as this, two other main types of wine are made here - these are called Recioto, a sweet red dessert wine, and Amarone, which is made using dried grapes.

Ripasso wine, which is known as a type of Valpolicella Superiore is made using the leftover dried grape skins of Recioto and/or Amarone, depending on the desired taste and what is convenient for the winemakers.

Ripasso is made using a process known as ‘re-passing’ (hence the name) which involves re-using grape skins which have already been through fermentation.

Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore wine

Valpolicella wine is passed through the leftover grape skins of Amarone or Recioto wine, and left to soak up the flavor for up to two weeks.

The grape skins still contain a lot of sweetness, which, when left to ferment for a second time, imparts the Ripasso with a complex and unique richness, without too much bitterness from tannins.

What Does Ripasso Taste Like?

Being made from sweet Valpolicella wine that has been fermented for a second time, Ripasso is a rich and juicy wine which contains little of the dessert sweetness of its parent varietals.

It contains layers of tasting notes and aromas. Most commonly, Ripasso is rich and juicy, contains aromas of cherry, plum and red berries, and has a warm, slightly spiced finish with a hint of star anise and delicate florals. Ripasso typically has an alcohol content of 14%.

Ripasso Storage and Aging

After a little airing, Ripasso can be enjoyed straight away. However, you can also age it for up to 18 months to get a richer and fuller flavor.

man choosing wine

How Much Does Ripasso Cost?

Ripasso Valpolicella is a mid-range wine, and a good one costs around $20 per bottle. You can find more affordable bottles for $15, and more premium vintages for up to $30.

Next: What happens when a group of American winemakers create their own vintage using only the very best French Bordeaux grape varieties? Read more about Meritage wines here!

Ripasso Serving Suggestions

Although it is made using medium sweet wines, Ripasso is quite dry and can be enjoyed alone or alongside a wide range of savory dishes.

It is best paired with food like rich stews, red meat dishes like steak, beef ragu and burgers, sausage, game, mature and smoked cheeses, sauteed mushrooms and risotto.

Ripasso Valpolicella wine

Since it has been recognised as a brand of wine in its own right, Ripasso has become of the most popular Italian wines on the market.

Affordable and containing layers of richness and complexity of flavor, it’s a great day-to-day option both for casual drinkers and wine enthusiasts.

However you choose to enjoy your Ripasso, whether its paired with a meal or as a casual evening indulgence, this is a great foray into the world of Italian wines. 

About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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  1. Just enjoyed our first bottle of David Sterza Valpolicella Ripasso Classic Superiore with a pasta dinner. We loved it! We can't remember where we picked this bottle up, but will certainly be buying again. Was very happy to read your straight forward educational information and glad to put the correct words to what my uneducated palate was tasting. Made perfect sense!

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