Wine of the Week: Riondo Rosso

A stunning wine at one-seventh the price

Wine of the Week

Riondo Rosso

The pundits have always taught us to avoid judging a book by its cover, but in the world of wine, that's difficult to avoid. Inevitably, the weirder and/or more expensive the package, the more suspect the juice. So when the folks at Riondo released their simple red wine, Rosso ($12.95, sometimes under $10 when on sale), I have to admit to being a bit skeptical. The bottle looks like an expensive antique crock and just screams to have a ribbon and gift card attached. Luckily, the wine itself is made of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot sourced from the beautiful Italian vineyards around Venice. While that sounds pretty pedestrian, the folks at Riondo have a secret weapon. They also make Amarone, often one of the world's most expensive wines. Amarone's cost comes from allowing the grapes to slowly desiccate before crushing, a process that concentrates the sugars and makes the wines more intense. Rather than just discarding those luscious grape skins, the winemakers at Riondo then allow their budget wines to sit on them and extract flavors and aromas. So for about one-seventh the price, you get a whiff of the premium product.

Riondo is not the only company to do this, but not many do it with Merlot and Cabernet. Most of the others use Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. Since Americans are more used to the Merlot and Cabernet profile, Riondo might be on to something. The proof is in the glass, and this is indeed a delicious, aromatic wine, filled with peppery aromas ideal for a grilled burger or steak. Riondo is just now bringing these wines to Texas, so you might have to ask your favorite wine seller to find some for you. It's a bargain at the price and well worth the search.

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