Italy is known to be the home of unique, original, and delicious wines. This includes the Vin Santo brand translated as ‘saint wine’. There are quite a number of theories that explain the origin of Vin Santo wines. One of the stories indicates that they were produced as a result of the wine left over from a mass that was given to the sick. Another story is that the head of the Greek Orthodox Church was served with a pure wine and expressed that the wine was xanthos (yellow).
But Vin Santo wine is indeed very intriguing when all is considered. This wine works best as a dessert wine that is to be served after meals.
How Vin Santo Wine is Produced
Vin Santo wine is produced in different parts of Italy. But the best wines come from the Tuscany region. This is the most prominent part of Italy that wines are made out of, what with there being favorable conditions for growing the grape plants needed for getting the fruit ready for wine purposes. The wine is produced by blending white grapes together to create a sweet and slightly strong flavor. The strong tone makes it useful for enjoying something after dinner.
To make the wine, the grapes are harvested and dried for a couple of months. Yeast is then added to the grapes to allow the fermentation process. The fermentation process is slow and at times as it can take up to four years for the process to be completed.
This whole process contributes to the delicious taste of Vin Santo wines. Typically, Vin Santo is a sweet dessert wine with caramel, hazelnut and honey aromas. It has an alcohol content of 14 to 17 percent. Vin Santo is usually made with 2 grape varieties, Trebbiano and Malvasia. The former is popular for being acidic, while the latter is versatile enough to be utilized in many types of wines including dessert and fortified wines.
There are also red Vin Santo wines produced from Sangiovese grape types. Those are not as common as the white ones though.
How Can the Alcoholic Content Vary?
The alcoholic content of Vin Santo wine will vary based on the DOC region in Tuscany that the wine is produced in. Wines from the Bianco dell’ empolese region must have a content of at least 11 percent while featuring mostly Trebbiano grapes. Meanwhile, wines from the Bianco della Valdinievolve region need to have a minimum content of 17 percent. Some local white grape varieties may be used in this one, thus allowing the wine to be produced with a higher alcoholic content. Expect the wine to have a strong alcohol content regardless of which choice you take in.
The grapes for a Vin Santo wine have to be fermented and then aged. These are aged in oak barrels to produce a rich flavor. The grapes would have to be aged for at least three years, but there are often times when wineries would age their grapes for at least ten years.
Chestnut wood may be used in some situations. Chestnut wood is popular for offering added wood tannins to improve upon how the wine is aged while preventing evaporation from taking place. A small amount of space is kept in each barrel to ensure the effects of the natural oxidation process can be collected by the wine itself.
Cherry wood and juniper wood materials are often used in the aging process. However, those woods are not as popular as what might be found in most wineries.
What is interesting though is that the storage process helps give wineries a bit of a fallback in the event that their wines are not aged properly and become fermented to the point where they become straightforward vinegar. The wineries can sell the compounds that did not age well as vinegar materials. This simplifies how a winery can get its wines produced in any fashion.
The Best Vin Santo Wines
Among the best Vin Santo brands include the following choices:
Avignonesi Vin Santo
Avignonesi makes this with a clone of the Sangiovese grapes. Those grapes are dried for at least six months on wood racks to keep their sugars concentrated. After that, the wine is aged for ten years to produce a rich flavor. Some apricot flavors can be found here.
Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo
The candied orange peel flavor of this wine makes it a standout choice. The dried fruit and honey tones add a good texture. This wine is aged for about six years and features a mix of both the Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes. The wine also has a creamy texture to its body, thus making it easier for you to take in than what you might find elsewhere.
Villa Puccini Vin Santo
Villa Puccini uses only the finest oak barrels for the aging process. The layout of each barrel used here produces a comfortable surface that adds a great tone all the way around.
Fattoria Di Grignano Vin Santo
The amber tone of this wine makes for something intriguing to serve during dessert. The use of Malvasia grapes in this version helps to produce the noteworthy flavor that you can get out of this wine.
What Can You Pair Vin Santo With?
The Vin Santo wine can be paired with various cheeses. It goes well with blue cheeses, but it does even better with gorgonzola cheese.
Some rich pates can also mix well with Vin Santo. Seared fois gras and duck liver pate are among the most popular ones you can enjoy.
As a dessert wine, Vin Santo goes well with many desserts. You can enjoy this with nut-based pastries, including walnut tarts and pecan pies.
A Final Note
Vin Santo wine works best as something that can be served for dessert purposes. Be sure to see how well Vin Santo wine can work when you are aiming to serve something exciting and worthwhile at the dinner table.