Red wine fans will be relieved to see I’m recommending their colour this week. Hopefully I can entice you into trying a wine that’s not very popular.


Valpolicella was once the largest red wine exported out of Italy. It was an inexpensive, light wine that worked at Italian restaurants — and for millions of people just getting into wine. But along came Australia and light wine was forgotten.


I still buy Valpol in the summer to gulp lightly chilled and to partner bruschetta. But I also buy it all year round because Valpolicella now comes in several styles. You can even buy a version that’s richer than your favourite Shiraz (but that’s winter wine). Today, I want to tell you about a Valpol that feels good in the days between summer and fall. Or anytime of the year when you’re in the mood for a gutsy red.


To enjoy Tommasi’s Valpol you must understand the nature of genuine Italian red wine. It differs from all of today’s popular reds in that it does not try to be nice. At least not nice in an easy, comfortable way. Liveliness is preferred over smoothness. Bitterness is welcome, as is some challenge.


Italian red wine also has earthy, heartwarming flavours. It feels good. What I love most are the contradictions in the wine — is it love or war? Is it a kiss on the lips or a kick in the arse? The answer: It’s all of these. I read somewhere that to survive in life you must be able to entertain opposites. Which makes Valpolicella a metaphor for life.

Billy Munnelly is author, wine critic and publisher of Billy’s Best Bottles Wineletter and Billy’s Best Wines For 2005.

Visit www.billysbestbottles.comfor information about his in-home wine-tasting seminar. To receive a free copy of Billy’s Best Bottles Wineletter, e-mail



LCBO No. 669150

Price: $13.45