Sweet wines are produced using the same vinification techniques used for normal wines, with the only difference that the grapes, before being vinified, are subjected for a period of time more or less long to withering, that is to a reduction or elimination of the water present in the berry. This method is used to bring the grapes to over aging, in Italy there are about 110 dessert wines. There are also fortified dessert wines, or wines made from dried grapes and added with alcohol.
There are 2 different ways to make the grapes wither.
The first method involves drying the berries directly on the vine so that they are attacked by noble rot.
The second technique is to dry the bunches of grapes or berries after harvesting. They are laid on mats or hung up to dry. This is done outdoors or indoors, where temperature and humidity must be the same.
The next steps are pressing, winemaking and maturing, which can take several years depending on the wine.
Some varieties of well-known dessert wines:
– Sauternes (France)
– Tokaj (Hungary)
– Trockenbeerauslese (Germany)
– Passito di Pantelleria (Italy)
– Sforzato di Valtellina (Italy)
– Amarone della Valpolicella (Italy)
– Vino Santo Toscano (Italy)
– Vino Santo Trentino (Italy)
There are various hypotheses about the origin of the name Vin Santo, a typical Tuscan wine. One of these takes us back to Florence in 400 AD, where attempts were made to reunite the Greek Orthodox Church with the Roman Catholic Church. However, the goal was not reached. In those days the bishops of both parties lived, ate and drank together. When the Greeks drank our old sweet dessert wine, they said that this was the wine of Xantos. Another legend says that the name can be traced back to the yellow colour (yellow sounds so similar in Greek). The Italian bishops liked the word, which in Italian means holy and was well suited for a fair wine. It was then for all the “Vin Santo”.
Traditionally, only the best bunches of grapes were used and then spread on mats or hung on hooks to dry. The dried berries were pressed and the must filled into wooden barrels of various sizes, from which the old Vin Santo was taken just before. From a hundred kilograms of fresh grapes, about 25 litres of wine were ultimately produced. In modern production, only new wooden barrels are used and fermentation is triggered by the addition of yeasts suitable for high sugar concentrations. Vin Santo is a dessert wine drunk after meals or at other times of the day, but mainly with the typical “cantucci toscani”.