Vin Santo, An Exquisite Dessert Wine
Vin Santo is a curious name for an Italian dessert wine with such articulate and refined sensory properties. The etymology of this “holy” of wines has sparked a number of legends including a remedy for plagues, or coined by the Council of Florence in 1439, but its origin most likely lies in its utilization during masses, or the precise period of working the grapes at Christmas, All Saints or Easter.
There are varieties of Vin Santo dessert wine originating in the Italian regions of Tuscany and Umbria that are able to bring the stories and aromas of remote common roots to mind. Traditionally, only the best clusters are chosen, which are then hung or placed on tatami to dry. Each grape cluster is squeezed, and the must is left to rest in small wooden caratelli of various sizes.
In the Medieval epoch the same canisters were used, influencing the final flavor enormously with the wine-impregnated wood, and the sealed product was fermented in ceiling rafters to profit from temperature differences between summer and winter. Aging, like today, could last over ten years.
Tuscan Vin Santo is made using the Trebbiano and Malvasia varietals – a prestigious elixir, and legendary Italian dessert wine that is also good with biscotti.