What is Corvina wine?

Corvina is an Italian red wine grape most famous as a key ingredient in Valpolicella wines. It is often noted for its lack of color and tannins,a characteristic emphasized by the fact that it is so commonly overcropped

By Lucie Robson
Nov 18, 2021
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Corvina in 30 seconds

  • Corvina is a juicy red grape that’s native to the Veneto region in northeast Italy.
  • It has prominent aromas and flavors of red cherry is thin-skinned, highly acidic, and has low to medium tannins.
  • This grape is versatile making everything from early-drinking, fruit-forward, to rich, age-worthy sweet wines
  • Corvina makes famous wines from its historic centre Valpolicella DOCG/ DOCG Superiore and the wider area, Valpolicella DOC. A notable area is Valpantena.
  • It also is blended in Bardolino, Bardolino DOC, Bardolino Superiore DOCG, and Bardolino Superiore Classico DOCG wines, also in Veneto.

 

Learn about Corvina

Corvina is renowned for making some of Italy’s most iconic wines. If you’ve tasted fresh and fruity Valpolicella DOC, Valpolicella Classico DOC, age-worthy Valpolicella DOC Superiore, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, sweet Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG, and rich Valpolicella Ripasso DOC, you’ve tasted Corvina. It also features in Bardolino DOC/ Bardolino Superiore DOCG red blends but Rondinella is higher in these blends, so the aroma/ flavor profile is distinct. These are classic wines from Italy’s Veneto region that cover a range of styles made in a variety of ways. In the past, Corvina was confused with another local grape, Corvinone, but it was established in 2005 that they are different varieties. To increase color and tannins, Corvina is often blended with local grapes Rondinella (which it’s related to) and Molinara. 

 

Corvina Tasting Notes

Corvina is a late ripener that produces high yields. The stand-out aroma and flavor is sour red cherry which is detectable across all the wines this grape features in. In Amarone and Recioto della Valpolicella, the cherry is more concentrated and mixed with sweet cooking spice, a full-body, and high alcohol. Ripasso displays stewed cherries and plums, medium to high tannins, and a medium to full body. Bardolino DOC is fresh and fruity while Bardolino DOCG has more complexity.

Corvina generally produces dry wines. The exception is Recioto. The reason for the different flavor profiles is down to how each style of wine is made. We go into detail about this in Corvina Wine Styles section.

 

Corvina Wine Styles and Production Methods

Corvina from Valpolicella is made in five styles from youthful and fruity to age-worthy and rich. There’s a Corvina wine for every palate and occasion!

Valpolicella/ Valpolicella Classico DOC: This is a simple, fresh and fruity style of red wine with light tannins. It’s rarely oaked and made for early drinking. The DOCG wine is made in the foothills where the soil is volcanic and clay-based leading to more concentrated grapes. The DOC wine is made from flatter gravel and sand areas where fruit is lighter.

Valpolicella DOC Superiore: With raspberry, black cherry, spice, and high alcohol, this is made from part fresh and part dried grapes and aged in oak.

Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG: This is a full-bodied, high-alcohol wine made from dried grapes. The fruit is picked early to retain acidity then left to dry out for several months to concentrate flavors and sugars. This process is called passito. Fermentation starts in mid-winter. These wines are aged in large oak casks.

Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG: This is a full-bodied, high-alcohol wine that has a sweet character. Like Amarone, it’s made from passito grapes. The fruit is so sweet that fermentation stops naturally leaving high residual sugar levels in the wine. 

Valpolicella Ripasso DOC: This is a medium to full-bodied wine with cooked cherry and plum flavors and medium to high tannins. It’s made from the grape skins of Amarone added to a vat of ordinary Valpolicella wine that’s already undergone fermentation. The skins activate a second fermentation creating a deep, intense wine.

Bardolino DOC: This is a fresh, fruity simple dry red wine with no or little oak that’s perfect for early drinking. It generally has more Rondinella in the blend than Valpolicella and is slightly lighter in body because its vineyards are further north.

Bardolino Superiore DOCG: This is similar to the DOC style but is more layered owing to at least 12 months of oak aging.

 

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Corvina Food Pairing

Corvina is a red grape that produces fresh, fruity wines and rich, full-bodied styles. This means it’ll pair well with a range of meat dishes, vegetables, cheeses, and some sweets.


Meat and Fish

Owing to different styles, wines made from Corvina can match with a selection of meat dishes and some fish.

Valpolicella DOC/ DOCG and Bardolino DOC/ DOCG

  • Italian charcuterie.
  • Pepperoni pizza.
  • Spaghetti and meatballs.
  • Spaghetti Bolognese.
  • Hamburgers.
  • Any dish with loads of tuna or salmon!
  • Chicken dishes.
  • Seafood stew.

Amarone and Ripasso della Valpolicella DOCG and Valpolicella DOC Superiore

  • Rich game recipes (hare, rabbit, veal).
  • Steak.
  • Duck breasts.
  • Calamari.
  • Turkey.
  • Beef Teriyaki.

Vegetable and Vegetarian Dishes

A range of vegetarian and vegetable-based dishes suit the different styles of Corvina wines.

Valpolicella DOC/ DOCG, Bardolino DOC/ DOCG, Amarone and Ripasso della Valpolicella DOCG, and Valpolicella DOC Superiore

  • Grilled vegetables.
  • Mushroom risotto.
  • Pesto with pasta of all varieties.
  • Cheese-filled ravioli.
  • Vegetable tart with caramelized veggies.

Cheese and Sweets

The dry styles go best with cheeses while Recioto is perfect for sweets.

Valpolicella DOC/ DOCG and Bardolino DOC/ DOCG

  • Light and creamy cheeses such (goat cheese, brie, ricotta).

Amarone and Ripasso della Valpolicella DOCG and Valpolicella DOC Superiore

  • Strong cheeses like Parmesan, aged Gouda, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton.
  • Desserts with rich red and black fruit like a cobbler (but more fruity than sweet!) as the acidity will enhance the fruit and body of the wine.

Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG

  • Cheesecake.
  • Chocolate tart.
  • Strawberry tiramisu.
  • Anything with caramel and toffee.
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Corvina types

Most Corvina comes from Valpolicella and Bardolino with wines that reflect both the terroir and winemaking processes.


Classico

The word “Classico” on an Italian wine label indicates that the wine comes from the historic, original center of a wine region which is often the source of the best wines. The Valpolicella appellation is located northwest of Verona a few kilometers from Lake Garda. Valpolicella Classico DOC comes from the original classified Valpolicella foothills region where the soils are clay and volcanic. This promotes cool, steady ripening so fruit has balanced acidity, sugars, and flavors resulting in finessed wines. Valpolicella DOC, on the other hand, comes from the wider Valpolicella plains beyond the Classico sites where sandy, gravelly soils promote fruity, lower acidity wines.


Superiore

When this word appears on an Italian wine label, it means the wine has met higher aging times and alcohol levels than other wines made in the same appellation. For example, Valpolicella Superiore DOC is richer and fuller-bodied than Valpolicella DOC.


Bardolino

The Bardolino appellation is situated further north than Valpolicella on the eastern shores of Lake Garda. Wines tend to have more Rondinella in the blends than in Valpolicella which adds floral and almond notes. 


What kind of wine is similar to Corvina?

Wines similar to Valpolicella DOC/ DOCG/ DOCG Superiore and Bardolino DOC/ DOCG

  • Schiava.
  • Beaujolais (Nouveau, Villages, and Cru).
  • Pinot Noir.
  • Rioja Joven.

Wines similar to Amarone and Ripasso della Valpolicella (DOCG/ DOC)

  • Malbec.
  • Côtes de Bordeaux reds.
  • Right Bank Bordeaux reds.
  • Chateau-Neuf-du-Pâpe/ Gigondas/ Vacqueyras.
  • Rioja Reserva/ Gran Reserva.
  • Bandol.
  • Pays d’Oc red blends.
  • Barossa Shiraz

Wines similar to Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG

  • Ruby port.
  • Pedro-Ximenez Sherry (although Recioto is not as syrupy).
  • Rutherglen Muscat.

Fun facts

  • This grape is sometimes referred to as Corvina Veronese, Cruina, or Casabria.
  • Corvina is difficult to cultivate (but worth it!) as it needs a lot of space. Imagination with the vineyard layout and trellising is important.
  • The year 1627 marks the earliest written record of Corvina.
  • While Italy is its home, Corvina is grown in Argentina and Australia.
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