The Valpolicella region's most famous wine, itself called valpolicella, is a light, fruity, pleasantly drinkable red. Its most serious wine, closely related in origin, but spiritually a world apart, is recioto della valpolicella amarone, or simply amarone—which might be translated as "the big, bitter one". When I first tried amarone, at a wine bar in Verona, I found it to be as flavorful as barolo and as strong as vintage port, but hardly tannic. Its translucent shade of garnet belied its intensity, and I thought I detected a hint of carbonation. Amarone, I later learned, is considered a vino da meditazione—an Italian notion that means something like "a wine to inspire serious discussion among friends". In Verona, it is often consumed with the cheese course during formal dinners—though many lovers of amarone say that its perfect match is pastissada de caval, horse meat marinated and stewed in red wine, a Veronese dish dating from at least the Middle Ages. Everyone, however, agrees on one thing: It is unique. Important and expensive—a connoisseur's wine—it's not the type of thing you order when you don't know what you want.