Savor the Sweetness this Holiday Season with Vinsanto

More often than not, we forget one of the unsung heroes of the wine world: dessert wine. So many people turn their heads when they hear “sweet wine” and often forget about the breadth of variety and expert craftsmanship when it comes to excellent dessert wines.

Many of us have been served a glass of low quality sweet wine at some point in our lives, prompting us to have a negative connotation of sweet wine and an unfair disposition to never want to drink it again. However, there are many different types of dessert wines, ranging from sparkling, lightly sweet, rightly sweet, sweet red wines, and fortified wines. One of my favorite dessert wines is Italian Vinsanto, which translates to “holy wine” and is a traditional and historic wine from Tuscany.

Records of Vinsanto in Italy date all the way back to the fourteenth century, and there are various legends and stories to how this style of wine got its name, but it was used by the Catholic church for Mass, and many thought that it also had healing properties.

Carpineto’s Farnito Vinsanto

Vinsanto is produced by drying freshly harvested grapes, a technique known as the “straw mat” method. Vinsanto is traditionally made with Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes, but can include other grape varietals as well. Grapes are harvested and then left to dry out on mats, in racks, or in boxes before being barrel fermented. Drying out the fruit prior to fermentation allows much of the water from the grapes to evaporate, leaving the sugar and sweetness behind. This produces a sweeter, more concentrated juice for fermentation.

Italian Vinsanto is known for its beautiful amber hue and intense aromas of dried fruit, nuts and caramel. It makes an excellent post-dinner treat, and can be an ideal aperitif. Personally, I like to enjoy it with strong cheeses like blue cheese, or paired with high quality dark chocolate. When served with biscotti is known as “Cantucci e Vinsanto“, a traditional (and delicious) welcoming tradition served as dessert. This makes the perfect treat for the holidays to share with family and friends after a delicious meal.

Carpineto’s Farnito Vinsanto del Chianti 1999 is perfect for the holiday season, whether you want to share it with someone as a gift, or open it up and enjoy during your festivities. Part of the wine was aged in traditional “caratelli,” while the other part of the wine was aged in oak barrels. Chestnut has very open pores, allowing more of the wood’s characteristics into the wine over time and increasing some of the nuttier aromas. In total this wine spent 16 years ageing between the two types of barrels, which were stored among Carpineto’s various eestates. With complex fragrances and long-lasting flavors of toasted hazelnut, honey, walnut, balsamic, dried apricot and gooey caramel, it’s hard to go wrong with this absolutely outstanding dessert wine.