Rondinella is an Italian red wine grape largely grown in the Veneto region of Italy and is an integral grape used in wines such as Bardolino and Valpolicella. It is often blended with Corvina, which in 2005 DNA evidence showed that Corvina was a parent variety to the Venetian grape Rondinella, and it is also blended with Molinara.
Rondinella grows easily all over the Valpolicella region, though the grape has rather neutral flavours but is favoured by growers due to its abundant yields than for any notable quality. The vine is very resistant to grape disease and produces grapes that, while they don't essentially have high sugar levels. They do dry out well for use in the production of ‘straw wines’ - the ‘Appassimento method’ - simply, this is a method of drying grapes for specific kinds of wine production like Amarone, a strong red wine made from dried grapes - and ‘Recioto’ blends, the dessert wine produced in Valpolicella.
The Rondinella word means ‘small swallow’, the name of this grape varietal probably comes from the shape of its leaves that look similar to a swallow’s tail. These blended Venetian red wines can be light, fragrant and reminiscent of cherries, strawberries and flowers with a slight bitter-almond finish. The Rondinella grape represents approximately 20-30% of the combination of grapes for Valpolicella and Amarone wines.
Rondinella is very rustic, generous and adapted for soils having a high content of clay and which are not well exposed. The grape berries are dark coloured, relatively small and round in shape, the bunches are of medium in size, loosely packed and have a cylindrical shape. It is perfectly adapted for drying and shrivelling ideal for the drying process which makes Amarone wine, especially from vines that have been grown in the hills in poor soil.
The wines that come from this variety have an intense ruby red colour, with a gentle aroma. They are fruity and have a flavour which is not tannic, but having a good palate structure. Some of the best cuisine that matches well with Rondinella blended wines includes roast lamb with peppers and braised herb crusted lamb with a light wine sauce, plus a well flavoured pasta dish and pizza.