Discover Vin Santo, the Tuscan version of dessert wines

How to make Vin Santo

Vin Santo is obtained with a particular process of drying the grapes to ensure that the sugar residue is the only element remaining inside the grapes. Usually, the grapes that will become Vin Santo are white grapes, specifically from the Trebbiano and Malvasia vines, which according to the specifications, must reach the minimum percentage of 70% alone or together.

After the first drying phase, a light pressing is carried out. Here is how you obtain the must, which should ferment in small wooden barrels, the so-called "caratelli" for a minimum of 24 months. These are kept in a ventilated room called the "vinsantaia" or "barrique room", a space kept at a controlled temperature. Sometimes also attics are used as vinsantaia because the difference in summer-winter temperature, which is particularly noticeable in these rooms, benefits the fermentation and aromas of the wine itself.

There are various methods for producing Vin Santo, in some cases it is preferred to leave the must in contact with the pomace - that is, the skins, stems, and grape berries left over from pressing. In other cases, however, it is preferable to keep them separate.



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Recipes and pairings with Vin Santo

Cantalici Vin SantoIf we talk about Romeo, Juliet's name immediately comes up. Similarly, if we talk about Vin Santo, we immediately think of "cantuccini", the classic dry Tuscan biscuits with almonds famous for being dipped in this particular wine - a culinary cliché. Well, cantucci is not the only possible combination with Vin Santo.

Still in the context of dessert wines that go well together with desserts: Vin Santo pairs very well with a Sacher cake or even with a nice fig tart with a moderate note of sweetness.

To move away a little from classic tastes and venture into less explored territory: what do you think of this dessert wine paired with a good blue cheese, such as sweet gorgonzola or a nice mature pecorino? Doesn't that make your mouth water?! The characteristics of both products are enhanced by this seemingly bizarre combination.

For those who want to dare more: Vin Santo and foie gras. A combination worth experimenting with, since the natural sweetness of this Tuscan wine dessert goes well with the softness of foie gras, just like the classic combination with French Sauternes.

History of Chianti Vin Santo

But what is so special about this wine to be called Holy?

It depends on who you ask in Tuscany: if you ask the Sienese they tell us that a friar in 1348, the year of the Black Death, cured the sicks with this apparently miraculous wine (used to celebrate Mass).

However, if we ask those who are from Florence they tell us that during the Council of Florence in 1439, the wine they were drinking was described by one of the guests as Xanthos wine (in Greek Xanthos means yellow) but the word was confused with "santos" which in Italian sounds much like holy. So from that moment on, that was the adjective and the actual name of the product thinking it had something to do with its tasting characteristics. 

The less poetic but more likely version is that the name is linked to the fact that this wine was used during the celebration of Mass.

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