Vin Santo

Italians will often conclude the meal with a ‘digestivo’ – a digestive shot of grappa, limoncello (lemon liqueur made from Sorrento lemons) or Vin Santo sweet dessert wine. If I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be Vin Santo.

There are, as with any great Tuscan tale, several versions of just why Vin Santo – ‘Holy Wine’ – is so called. Vin Santo is made by leaving the Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes on the vine a little longer to allow the sugars inside the grapes to intensify. They are then hand-picked and carefully hung out to dry not in a cellar, but in the attic – that is, close to the saints. Vin Santo is the juice of choice used in mass, and this is possibly the most likely reason why it is called ‘Holy Wine’. Then there is the great legend that during the 1300s, the sweet Tuscan wine was given to help cure the sick who found this ‘miracle cure’ worthy of the title. Bottling also occurs at around Easter time, giving yet another holy association to this delicious Tuscan wine.
Once pressed, the small amount of liquid that remains is intensely sweet. It is then placed into a particular barrel known as ‘caratelli’, in which is kept for even up to a decade.
Vin Santo is traditionally enjoyed with Biscotti di Prato – crunchy biscotti that are dipped into the sweet liqueur for the simplest and most delicious of Tuscan desserts.

One of the notable producers of superb Vin Santo is Lornano, who ages it 10 years in wood barrrels before bottling. By the way Lornano produces some fabulous Super Tuscan red wines as well. Our villa company, Invitation to Tuscany, carries three apartments located on the vineyard estate in the heart of Tuscany for rent. So we can get our guests into the winery for special tastings.

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